The future of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Justice—which tackles environmental racism and enforces civil rights laws—was thrown into question when one of its founding architects, Mustafa Ali, recently resigned.
For the environmental justice movement (or EJ), this office was akin to a cloud server, where local EJ organizations could store data collected from their neighborhoods, share tips, best practices, and other vital documents. Before Ali’s departure, the office was already reeling from reports that its budget could be decreased as much as 78 percent. It remains to be seen how much the new administration will emphasize EJ. The prior EPA chiefs Gina McCarthy and Lisa Jackson were clear that EJ would be a priority for the agency; the new chief secretary, Scott Pruitt, has been far less clear about that.