On July 22, 2022, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the initiation of an environmental justice investigation into the practices of the City of Houston relating to illegal dumping. According to DOJ’s news release: “The investigation will examine whether the City’s enforcement and solid waste management operations, policies and practices in response to illegal dumping have resulted in discrimination against Black and Latino residents in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI).”
Complaint from Lone Star Legal Aid
In a statement issued the same day, Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney General of DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said: “The investigation is prompted by a complaint sent to the Justice Department from Lone Star Legal Aid. The complaint alleges that the city of Houston engages in race and national origin discrimination against a predominantly Black and Latino area in northeast Houston-Houston Trinity/Houston Gardens Super Neighborhood 48. The complaint sets forth complaints by residents in the upper Neighborhood 48 who frequently make calls complaining about the illegal dumping of household furniture, mattresses, tires, medical waste, trash, dead bodies, and vandalized ATM machines and other items dumped and abandoned in their community.”
Mayor Says Investigation Is Baseless
The City of Houston responded in a statement from Mayor Sylvester Turner: “This investigation is absurd, baseless, and without merit.” Mayor Turner’s statement said the City aggressively responds to all illegal dumping complaints, recently doubled the fine for illegal dumping to the maximum allowed by state law, and “installed surveillance cameras to catch and prosecute individuals and businesses responsible for illegal dumping.”
To see Kristen Clarke’s statement https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/assistant-attorney-general-kristen-clarke-delivers-remarks-announcing-launch
To see Mayor Turner’s statement https://www.houstontx.gov/mayor//press/2022/statement-doj-investigation-illegal-dumping.html
I hope to see many of you this week in Austin at the Environmental Super Conference.