Stacey Sublett Halliday, Julius Redd Quoted in the AP, Greenwire, Inside EPA on the Implications of Recent EPA and SCOTUS Decisions on Environmental Justice

Associated Press, Greenwire, Inside EPA

Recent Supreme Court and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decisions may have significant implications for advancing environmental justice (EJ). On June 29, 2023, the Supreme Court issued an opinion in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, substantially limiting race considerations in college admissions. Two days prior on June 27, 2023, the Biden Administration dropped an investigation into increased cancer risks among Black residents living in an industrial region in Louisiana. EPA had been investigating whether Louisiana state officials violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) in their regulation of emissions standards. These recent decisions could chill the Biden Administration’s efforts to advance EJ.

Principals and Co-Chairs of B&D’s Environmental Justice practice group, Julius Redd and Stacey Sublett Halliday (Washington, DC), were quoted in several media outlets on the implications of these decisions for addressing EJ concerns.

In Greenwire's article, "Supreme Court ruling entangles Biden's environmental justice efforts," Julius says, "The case reaffirms that Title VI only applies in cases of intentional discrimination...Any party that wants to defend itself against a Title VI investigation may also point to EPA’s decision this week to close out high-profile investigations of two Louisiana agencies."

In an Associated Press article, "EPA retreats on Louisiana investigations that alleged Black people lived amid higher cancer risk," published before the Supreme Court opinion was issued, Julius forecasts, "[a] decision that curtails Title VI could limit the agency’s authority to wield the civil rights law."

Looking to the future in Inside EPA's "High Court’s Affirmative Action Ruling May Bolster EPA’s Title VI Opponents" article, Julius comments, "Gorsuch’s concurrence could be cited by funding recipients such as state agencies defending against EPA Title VI investigations."

In the same article, Stacey agrees with Julius; noting in reference to litigants seeking to further narrow Title VI’s scope, "Gorsuch has made it clear that such advocates will have sympathetic perspectives on the bench should that question come before the Court, raising the stakes for federal agencies with active Title VI enforcement programs."

She adds, "The administration’s trend toward a race-neutral definitions of 'Disadvantaged Communities' (DAC) suggests that officials have long anticipated this outcome in the high court suit."

B&D's Environmental Justice practice has been at the forefront of EJ issues for decades, bringing specialized private sector and government experience to bear. We represent multinational companies and municipal clients in complex disputes and high-profile project development, corporate ethics and governance, environmental compliance, and investigations related to EJ and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 enforcement.