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The head of the EPA’s environmental justice program has handed in his resignation letter.

Mustafa Ali at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., in 2016. Photo from the Wilson Center/Environmental Change and Security Program.

Mustafa Ali — who helped found the office in 1992 under George H. W. Bush — resigned as the head of the environmental justice program in a letter dated March 7, 2017.


The justice program was created to ensure all people had equal access to a clean and healthy environment, regardless of race, national origin, or income. However, a recent budget proposal from the Trump administration would cut the EPA’s funding by a quarter overall and get rid of the justice program altogether.

“I never saw in the past a concerted effort to roll back the positive steps that many, many people have worked on … I can’t be a part of anything that would hurt those [disadvantaged] communities. I just couldn’t sign off on those types of things,” the Washington Post quoted Ali as saying.

But before he left, Ali penned a letter to the EPA’s new administrator, Scott Pruitt, imploring Pruitt to think before slashing funds. The full text of Ali's letter was tweeted by Emily Atkin, a staff writer at The New Republic.

Here are four key points from Ali in that letter:

1. “Communities of color, low-income communities and indigenous populations are still struggling to receive equal protections before the law.”

Those communities are more likely to be affected by air pollution, crumbling water or sewage infrastructure, hazardous waste, and lead in the water.

That last one rings especially true, given that Flint, Michigan, still doesn't have clean water (and now they must now pay for that water again, even though it’s still unsafe to drink without a filter).

Flint water protester in 2016. Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.

2. “I wonder if our new leadership has had the opportunity to converse with those who need our help most.”

Communities speak for themselves, Ali says and notes that some of the best results have come from working collaboratively with local communities through grants and programs. Administrators just have to listen. But cutting out the small grant and collaborative problem-solving programs that formed the backbone of this relationship could silence these people’s voices.

“I strongly encourage you and your team to continue promoting agency efforts to validate these communities’ concerns, and value their lives,” Ali wrote.

3. “Any cuts to this program will increase the public health impacts and decrease the economic opportunities.”

Flint residents holding up contaminated water during a news conference. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

“One of the points that you shared with staff in your recent town hall was that you were looking for opportunities to balance the environment and the economy,” wrote Ali. “There are countless examples of how the local communities vision for revitalization have grown into productive collaborative partnerships.”

He also pointed out that the program makes good economic sense. In 2016, Brownfields revitalization (cleaning up formerly contaminated sites) leveraged more than $16 for every dollar the EPA spent and created eight-and-a-half new jobs for every hundred million spent.

4. “The upcoming choices you make will have significant impacts on the public health and environment of our country.”

He ended his letter with a reminder: “Administrator Pruitt, you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring people together, to ensure that all communities have safe places to live, learn, work, play and pray,” he wrote. “I wish you well as you move forward on protecting the public health and environment of our nation, as you help make the American Dream a reality for all.”

And he's right. Environmental protections affect everyone who lives in our country, but the proposed budget cuts could defang anti-pollution measures, blindfold our watchdogs, and stifle clean-up measures. Restoration along the Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, the San Francisco Bay, and Puget Sound could be slashed or completely eliminated.

Without strong protections, it's hard to see how Pruitt could live up to the legacy Ali is leaving behind.

Ali is moving to a job as senior vice president at the Hip Hop Caucus, a nonprofit that gets younger Americans involved in grass roots activism.

Images provided by Pacifico

Making waves in the best way

True

At last, summer is here. And for many people, that means it's time for heading to the beach and maybe even catching some waves. Surfing is a quintessential summertime activity for those who live in coastal communities—it’s not only really fun and challenging, it’s also a great way to celebrate Mother Nature’s beauty. Even after a wipeout, the cool water mixed with warm sunshine offers a certain kind of euphoria. Or, you know, just hanging back on the sand is plenty fun too. Simply being outdoors near the ocean is its own reward.

pacifico quiksilver beach cleanupLet’s protect the places where outdoor adventure happensAll photos provided by Pacifico

However, it's well known that our beautiful beaches are suffering the consequences of overcrowding, pollution and littering. What was once a way of playing in nature is now slowly destroying it. And of course, this affects beachgoers everywhere. The sad truth is—without taking action to preserve all the natural joys the earth provides, we will eventually lose them.

But there is hope. Two popular brands that both have roots in surf culture have teamed up to help make trips to the beach a more sustainable pastime. The best part? You don’t have to know how to hang ten in order to participate.

Pacifico®, a pilsner-style lager originally brought to the U.S. by surfers, and Quiksilver, an iconic apparel company loved by both surfers and beach goers alike, have created a brand-new range of clothing and accessories with sustainability in mind.

Take a look below. These threads are great for all kinds of fun in the sun, without compromising the environment.

pacifico quicksilver beach cleanupsReady to make some waves

The collection launches on July 5 and includes tees and woven shirts, boardshorts, hats, flip-flops and a special beach towel and tote bag. The unique collaboration features the vibrant, colorful designs that are the hallmark of Quiksilver combined with Pacifico elements, created to make a positive impact.

Each item has been thoughtfully curated to minimize an environmental footprint and protect the outdoors. The hats, for example, are made from NetPlus® by Bureo®, a raw material created from South American recycled fishing nets. Additionally, the board shorts are made from recycled plastic bottles, and tees are made with 100% organic cotton. Pretty rad stuff, to put it in surfer lingo.

The prices on these pieces are equally rad, ranging from $28 flip-flops to $60 boardshorts.

In keeping with the sustainable ethos and protecting the places we play, Pacifico and Quiksilver will celebrate the products’ launch by hosting two beach cleanups. The first is on July 5 at Sunset Point in Malibu, California, from 4-5:30pm, and the second is on July 9th at Deerfield Beach in Florida from 8:30 – 10:30am.

pacifico quicksilver clothing lineCleaning up and looking good while doing it

Theses beach cleanups are open to anyone over the age of 21 who’s ready to have some fun while taking care of nature’s playground.

Those who can’t make it to the beach (bummer, dude) don’t have to miss out on all the fun. The new collection will be available on July 5th at www.quiksilver.com/mens-collab-pacifico. And even if you don’t surf, never plan to surf, have no desire to even be near a surfboard, rest assured, the apparel is still cool. Plus sustainable choices are always good fashion.

Our planet provides us with an endless supply of beauty and adventure. But without more mindful actions from humanity, its natural wonders will eventually diminish. Fortunately Pacifico and Quiksilver are making it easier than ever for people to enjoy the great outdoors without jeopardizing it. That’s a wave worth riding.

This article originally appeared on 09.06.17


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