Hillary Proposes New Environmental Plan Inspired By Flint Water Crisis

Hillary Clinton may not have won the Michigan primary, but it appears that she was listening to the residents there.

Clinton made an announcement on Wednesday at the National Action Network Convention, an event in New York City organized by the Reverend Al Sharpton. During her talk, Hillary introduced a new plan to "fight for environmental justice," which would include eliminating lead as a major public health threat within the next five years.

"If we put our minds to it, we can get it done… we know how to do the work. All we need is the will."
According to Fusion.net, Clinton didn't go into great detail in her speech. But her campaign released a fact sheet with an outline about how to reduce many of the environmental burdens that are borne within low-income areas.
"Across America, the burdens of air pollution, water pollution, and toxic hazards are borne disproportionately by low-income communities and communities of color."

"Simply put, this is environmental racism."

During her speech, Clinton cited the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, pointing out that the toxic water problem would never have happened in a more affluent region.Clinton proposes establishing a Presidential Commission on Childhood Lead Exposure that will write a national plan to eliminate the risk of exposure from paint, pipes, and soil within five years.

She also pledged up to $5 billion in federal dollars to help pay for the replacement of lead-tainted paint, windows, and doors in homes, schools, and childcare centers.

An article by ThinkProgress.org stated, "The CDC estimates that some half a million children in the United States between the ages of one and five have lead levels in their blood above 5 micrograms per deciliter, though no level of lead is considered safe. Public health experts argue that lead poisoning is a largely preventable crisis, but that federal regulations fall short of properly addressing the issue."

Other bullet points in the plan include:

  • Protecting public health and safety by modernizing drinking and wastewater systems.
  • Prosecuting criminal and civil violations that expose communities to environmental harm and work with Congress to strengthen public health protections in our existing laws.
  • Creating new economic opportunity through brownfield clean-up and redevelopment.
  • Reducing urban air pollution by investing in clean power and transportation.
  • Broadening the clean energy economy, build career opportunities, and combat energy poverty by expanding solar and energy efficiency in low-income communities and communities of color.
  • Protecting communities from the impacts of climate change by investing in resilient infrastructure.
  • Establishing an Environmental and Climate Justice Task Force to make environmental and climate justice, including cumulative impacts, an integral part of federal decision-making.
Following the Flint crisis, a recent poll showed that only about 50 percent of Americans are "very confident" that their tap water is safe to drink. America's aging water infrastructure will undergo modernization through increased investments, according to Clinton's environmental justice plan.Clinton called for increased spending to facilitate clean water and clean power, as communities of color tend to bear the brunt of air pollution in the United States. A highly-touted 2014 Wayne State University study discovered that "race is often a more important factor than income when determining a community's likely exposure to dangerous levels of air pollution."

Clinton also spoke about a change in transportation as a means of improving air quality and lessening air pollution. She referred to transportation as "a civil rights issue."

Clinton's opponent, Bernie Sanders, has recently called for a nationwide ban on fracking, which Hillary seems reluctant to do. Her new proposal may open doors for Clinton on the environmental front, as her campaign moves into the next round.

[Photo by Frank Franklin II/AP]