One of the most important figures in environmental justice just quit Trump’s EPA.
Mustafa Ali helped to start the EPA’s environmental justice office and its environmental equity office in the 1990s. For nearly 25 years, he advocated for poor and minority neighborhoods stricken by pollution. As a senior adviser and assistant associate administrator, Ali served under both Democratic and Republican presidents — but not under President Donald Trump.
His departure comes amid news that the Trump administration plans to scrap the agency’s environmental justice work. The administration’s proposed federal budget would slash the EPA’s $8 billion budget by a quarter and eliminate numerous programs, including Ali’s office.
The Office of Environmental Justice gives small grants to disadvantaged communities, a life-saving program that Trump’s budget proposal could soon make disappear.
Ali played a role in President Obama’s last major EPA initiative, the EJ 2020 action agenda, a four-year plan to tackle lead poisoning, air pollution, and other problems. He now joins Hip Hop Caucus, a civil rights nonprofit that nurtures grassroots activism through hip-hop music, as a senior vice president.
In his letter of resignation, Ali asked the agency’s new administrator, Scott Pruitt, to listen to poor and non-white people and “value their lives.” Let’s see if Pruitt listens.