Senior EPA Environmental Justice Official Leaves Agency, Joins Hip Hop Caucus

By Yessenia Funes Mar 09, 2017

The chief staff member in the EPA’s environmental justice office has resigned from his government post, reports InsideClimate News.

Mustafa Ali, former senior adviser and associate assistant administrator for environmental justice, told InsideClimate News that his talents would be better suited elsewhere given that the agency is now going in a different direction—especially with its leaders showing, as he claims, no “indication that they are focused or interested in helping those vulnerable communities.”

Ali’s work at the EPA revolved around combating air and water pollution within communities of color. He’s been there from the beginning, helping found the agency’s environmental justice office in 1992, originally as the Office of Environmental Equity.

He left a resignation letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt where he urged him to reconsider the proposed elimination of and cuts within the environmental justice program. Ali wrote, per InsideClimate News:

"When I hear we are considering making cuts to grant programs like the EJ small grants or Collaborative Problem Solving programs, which have assisted over 1,400 communities, I wonder if our new leadership has had the opportunity to converse with those who need our help the most. I strongly encourage you and your team to continue promoting agency efforts to validate these communities’ concerns, and value their lives."

Before Pruitt was confirmed on February 17, the agency was working to expand its environmental justice work into more aspects of the agency through its EJ 2020 Action Agenda. If the environmental justice office is gone, that work will likely be gone with it. Protecting the health of marginalized communities is key to the agency’s role, Ali told InsideClimate News.

Now, he will take that mission to aid the efforts of the Hip Hop Caucus as senior vice president. Ali will publicly represent the politically driven nonprofit for the first time at an environmental justice conference in Flint, Michigan, today (March 9).

(H/t InsideClimate News)