From Roger Clegg, President and General Counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, posted with permission:
The Color of Pollution
The federal Environmental Protection Agency issued a press release last week regarding the successful resolution of a complaint it had filed against the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. The complaint asserted “that CDPR’s annual renewal of the registration of methyl bromide … discriminated against Latino school children based on the health impacts of this pesticide. [EPA’s analysis] raised concerns that there was an unintentional adverse and disparate impact on Latino children resulting from the use of methyl bromide …. This concern was based on the high percentage of Latino children in schools near fields where methyl bromide was applied ….”
My question is this: What possible difference does it make that the schoolchildren here were Latino? Apparently EPA thinks that whether pollution is permissible or not will hinge to some degree on the national origin of its victims. That is, if your children are hurt by pollution but are the same color as a lot of children who are not hurt by pollution, then there’s no legal problem; but if your children are hurt by pollution and they are the same color as a lot of other children who are hurt by pollution, then there’s a legal problem. Yet another wacky result from using the “disparate impact” approach to civil-rights enforcement.
As Roger suggests, the EPA seems more concerned that methyl bromide discriminates than that it does bad things to anyone of whatever color who lives near its use. But if the EPA’s jurisdiction includes discrimination, why do we need an EEOC, an Office of Civil Rights in the Dept. of Education, a Civil Rights Division in the Justice Dept., etc., etc.?