Law clinic’s work inspires federal bill

U.S. Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., are co-sponsors of the Environmental Justice Mapping and Data Collection Act, which aims to direct financial aid to Black neighborhoods that experience unfairly negative environmental impacts and whose residents suffer health consequences as a result. One inspiration for the bill? The Washington University in St. Louis School of Law’s Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic (IEC)’s 2019 report “Environmental Racism in St. Louis.”

Bush referred to the report during a Jan. 28 press conference, citing its statistics on environmental racial disparities: Black children in St. Louis are 10 times more likely to visit an emergency room for asthma and 2.4 times more likely to have lead in their blood than white children.

In 2019, the IEC — working with partners Action St. Louis, Dutchtown South Community Corp., Arch City Defenders and the Sierra Club —  examined environmental public health factors in St. Louis city and issued the report detailing eight areas in which St. Louis’ Black communities experienced unfair  and unhealthy impacts.

“We are so thrilled that the report is reaching elected officials and that they are taking action on it,” said Elizabeth Hubertz, the clinic’s director. “This is what all of us hoped would happen.”

The IEC project continues; the IEC and its partners are seeking community input.

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