EPA's Carlton Waterhouse Disputes "Racist" Label

5 min read
fairly difficult
Ahead of his Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, the environmental lawyer has become a target of the far right's bogus narrative around race.
BuzzFeed News; Getty Images / Via YouTube / youtube.com

Carlton Waterhouse, the Biden administration's nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency office in charge of cleaning up the nation's most toxic waste sites, has spent his career fighting policies that hurt people of color. Now, in the lead-up to his Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, he's being called a "racist" and "extremist" for his positions on law enforcement funding and reparations policy. It's the Republicans' latest attempt to perpetuate a culture war around diversity and critical race theory. Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas told Fox News that Waterhouse was an "extremist" who "supports fringe environmental and racist policies." Thomas Jones, cofounder of the American Accountability Foundation, a conservative nonprofit that launched earlier this year, said Waterhouse is "a racist" who is "obsessed with pushing racially-divisive rhetoric and policies into every aspect of public life." In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Waterhouse addressed the criticisms for the first time and spoke about his own experiences with racial discrimination, including having a cousin who was shot and killed by the police. These experiences have indelibly shaped his work: He's fighting for everyone to breathe clean air and drink clean water, especially people of color and low-income communities who disproportionately live in the shadow of pollution. In response to the attacks on his character and work, Waterhouse said: "Those kinds of distortions just misrepresent really what I've fought for and the kinds of things that I've been advocating for." The criticisms come as the Biden administration has aggressively pushed for all agencies to prioritize environmental justice, creating a new White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council to bolster the government's progress. As part of this push, earlier this month the EPA released a report showing how climate change disproportionately impacts people…
Zahra Hirji
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