Nov 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

DOJ launches environmental justice investigation into Alabama county

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that it is launching an environmental justice investigation into whether Alabama’s state and local health departments discriminated against Black residents.

Why it matters: The investigation will examine whether the departments' policies have caused Black residents in Lowndes, Alabama, to "have diminished access to adequate sanitation systems."

  • It also marks the DOJ's first Title VI environmental justice investigation for one of the department's funding recipients.
  • Title VI prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating based on race, color or national origin, according to the DOJ.

What they're saying: "Sanitation is a basic human need," assistant attorney general Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, which is conducting the investigation, said in a statement.

  • "[N]o one in the United States should be exposed to risk of illness and other serious harm because of inadequate access to safe and effective sewage management," she added.
  • "We will conduct a fair and thorough investigation of these environmental justice concerns and their impact on the health, life, and safety of people across Lowndes County, Alabama."  

The Alabama Department of Public Health did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment but told AP that it is "committed to cooperating with the investigating agencies to have this matter resolved as quickly as possible."

  • The Lowndes County Health Department did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
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