Chicago EJ Advocates Notch Win After EPA Flags Civil Rights Violations

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has indefinitely postponed a permit decision to move a highly polluting metal crushing and recycling facility after the US EPA said it could violate the civil rights of blacks and Latinos living there. “Key data shows that current conditions on the southeast side of Chicago epitomize the environmental injustice problem that arises from more than half a century of prior actions,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “This neighborhood is currently at the highest level for many pollution indicators.”

The Research Management Group, which acquired the General Iron facility in 2019, is trying to relocate it from the white and affluent North Side neighborhood of Lincoln Park to a predominantly black and Latin American community on the Southeast Side that is already affected by numerous polluters Industries is afflicted.

History of environmental racism

“When you run a business with a terrible track record from a predominantly white and affluent community to a community of primarily Latin American and black citizens, you are sending a strong message that you value certain people over others,” said Olga Bautista, Southeast Environmental Task member Force, organizing against General Iron’s move to the Southeast Side, told WGN.

“Because of these known environmental degradation, the location of this facility in southeast Chicago has raised significant civil rights concerns,” Regan said. “The EPA believes that the issues raised by the HUD appeal deserve careful consideration as the city weighs its environmentally friendly decision on the RMG facility.” The delay in the general iron permit is a huge victory for neighborhood and environmental rights groups working to protect communities on the southeast side from another source of industrial pollution – a campaign that included hunger strikes – but organizers said much more is required.

“Until we have the right guidelines in Chicago, we’re all preparing, taking this moment to catch our breath, and preparing to work with the city to stop companies from moving in that don’t think about our health. ” Said Bautista.

Sources: Block Club Chicago, WGN, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, WTTW, WLS-Chicago; Commentary: Crains Chicago Business, Wesley Epplin, Olga Bautista, and Linda Rae Murray

Featured image: Environmental issues in southeast Chicago, courtesy of ESRI / ArcGIS and EPA

Originally published by Nexus Media.

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