The head of the Environmental Protection Agency’s program which is in charge of protecting minority populations from pollution has resigned.
The 24 year veteran of the EPA, Mustafa Ali, turned in his letter of resignation in the wake of the Trump administration’s proposal to completely defund the environmental justice efforts at the agency.
Ali submitted his resignation on Wednesday to Scott Pruitt, the Secretary of the agency. In his letter, he urged the agency’s newly sworn in chief to take the concerns of minority communities, which bear the brunt of air and water pollution, seriously.
“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,” Ali wrote. “I strongly encourage you and your team to continue promoting agency efforts to validate these communities’ concerns, and value their lives.”
Speaking to InsideClimate News, he said that he does not see “any indication that [the Trump administration] are focused or interested in helping those vulnerable communities. My values and priorities seem to be different than our current leadership and because of that I feel that it’s best if I take my talents elsewhere.”
In his letter, Ali also asked Pruitt to reconsider many of the proposed cuts that the administration is considering in an effort to cut about a quarter of the EPA’s budget, including collaborative problem-solving grants and a program for small environmental justice grants.
“We’ve had both [Republican and Democratic administrations] over time and none of them tried to do anything to destroy what the previous administration had done,” Ali told InsideClimate. “Folks are just hoping that this one will wake up and see value in continuing this important work.”
However, Ali does not see anything in the new EPA chief’s background to hang that hope, as he has sued the agency multiple times for its efforts to regulate CO2 emissions, mercury, and other pollutants. “When the administrator was in Oklahoma, I do not know of any time that he made environmental justice a priority,” he said.