EJ GROUPS LAUNCH PUSH AGAINST NICHOLS FOR EPA: Some environmental justice groups have mounted a campaign to derail the potential appointment of California air regulator Mary Nichols to lead EPA under Joe Biden, lodging complaints that she has failed to tackle the pollution threatening low-income areas and communities of color, Pro’s Zack Colman and Debra Kahn report. Nichols is well-liked by several heavyweight environmental organizations and has earned the endorsement of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to lead EPA, but the environmental justice advocates say many of her biggest achievements, such as California’s cap-and-trade program, have failed to help — or have even been done at the expense of — the communities that are disproportionately hurt by pollution.
“There’s this absent voice [that] this is sort of a done deal and that we’re all really excited about it — and we are definitely not excited about it,” Tina Johnson, director of the National Black Environmental Justice Network, told POLITICO. “It’s an uphill battle, but it feels like it shouldn’t be an uphill battle.”
Environmental justice critics argue elected Democrats and legacy green groups often emphasize national climate policies, while ignoring pollution that harms people of color. California environmental justice groups sent a letter to Biden’s transition team opposing Nichols’ nomination. They pointed to Nichols’ board ignoring recommendations from environmental justice advocates on how to design climate policies; Nichols’ “condescending tone” toward advocates; persistent air pollution in the Los Angeles and Central Valley air basins; and recent allegations by Black employees of systemic racism at the agency.