SAN FRANCISCO - The Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA) has settled a case against a California pesticide regulator that the agency found discriminated against Latino schoolchildren when they annually approved a powerful pesticide used near their schools.
The complaint alleged that the California Department of Pesticide Regulation's (CDPR) annual renewal of the registration of methyl bromide in 1999 discriminated against Latino school children based on the health impacts of this pesticide. The Office of Civil Rights’ extensive analysis of pesticide use in California from 1995 to 2001, raised concerns that there was an unintentional adverse and disparate impact on Latino children resulting from the use of methyl bromide during that period.
This concern was based on the high percentage of Latino children in schools near fields where methyl bromide was applied for the period from 1995-2001. EPA communicated its concerns to CDPR on April 22, 2011.
The EPA entered into an agreement with the CDPR to resolve the civil rights complaint filed in 1999 under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI). Title VI prohibits intentional discrimination and discriminatory effects on the basis of race, color, and national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance. By entering into this Agreement, EPA is delivering on its steadfast commitment to protecting and advancing civil rights, reforming the Agency’s Title VI program, addressing the backlog of complaints and providing effective enforcement of Title VI. EPA remains committed to demonstrating leadership on civil rights and ensuring this process better serves the American people.
Officials said the settlement is historic, because it's the first time the agency has issued a finding of adverse and disparate impact on a community in a civil rights case. The complaint was part of a backlog of more than 30 unresolved cases, some of which were first accepted by the agency in the 1990s.
CDPR has agreed through this Agreement to expand on-going monitoring of methyl bromide air concentrations by adding a monitor at or near one of the Watsonville, Calif. area schools named in the original complaint. The purpose of the additional monitor is to confirm that there will be no recurrence of earlier conditions. CDPR will share the monitoring results with EPA and the public and will also increase its community outreach and education efforts to schools that are in high methyl bromide usage areas.
“The EPA is committed to ensuring that all Americans receive equal environmental and health protections. That is why Administrator Jackson has made it a focus of this agency to clear the backlog of Title VI cases and get resolution in these issues that touch people's lives. Today’s action is an important step towards this goal,” said Rafael DeLeon, Director of EPA’s Office of Civil Rights. “Environmental protection is public health protection and everyone, especially children, deserves the opportunity to live, play and learn in healthy communities.”