Dr. Robert Bullard: The Environment 'Must Not Be Compromised'
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If you're an environmental wonk, a social justice advocate, or someone who lives way too close to a chemical plant or polluting facility for comfort, you know the name of Dr. Robert Bullard, the "father of environmental justice." For years he ran the Environmental Justice Resource Center out of Clark Atlanta University as a hub for research and policy analysis around issues that deal with the disproportionate impact of pollution and environmental policies on poor communities and communities of color. Last month, Bullard joined Texas Southern University, the school where he first taught in 1976, as their new Dean of the Barbara Jordan Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs.
In his first interview since taking the position, Bullard shares with Loop 21 some of his wisdom and expertise around the much attacked environmental attempts of the Obama Administration, funding for environmental research, green jobs, the BP oil disaster, and his future at Texas Southern.
Loop 21: As you join this new college administration, the backdrop is the first White House administration to take environmental justice seriously in a long time -- but only to have Republicans now calling to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency. How do you feel about that?
Robert Bullard: For those of us who are researching and who are in academia and our partners in the community, non-government organizations and community based organizations, we have to keep pressing to make sure that no matter what politics are involved, the bottom line is that the environment and our public health must not be compromised, thrown overboard or kicked to the curb just because it is unpopular. The issues that were priorities at the beginning of the current administration are still priorities for the communities most impacted by pollution. There is some disappointment right now, but the people who are still hurting and are on the frontline of environmental assaults are not going to turn their backs no matter what political climate is.
Loop 21: But does the political climate impact how much funding research organizations like yours are able to get?