The provisions of H.R. 6, the House energy bill, posed particularly severe consequences for low-income and minority communities, which already bear a disproportionate share
of the burdens of polluting industrial facilities. More than 70 percent of African Americans and Latinos live in counties that regularly fail to meet current clean air standards, as compared to 58 percent of majority-white communities. Weakening or skirting longstanding environmental safeguards, as the energy bill proposed, would only widen this racial and economic disparity.
During consideration of the energy bill, Representative Alcee Hastings (D-FL) offered an amendment to codify an executive order signed by President Clinton in 1994. The order
requires federal agencies to identify the impacts of their programs on minority and low-income populations and to develop policies for implementing their programs in a nondiscriminatory manner. In addition to making this permanent law, Hastings’ House Amendment 98 would have adopted a strong federal definition of “environmental justice,” created environmental justice offices in federal agencies, and reestablished the Interagency Federal Working Group on Environmental Justice.
On April 21, 2005, the House defeated the Hastings amendment by a 185-243 vote (House roll call vote 130). YES is the pro-environment vote.