Friday, January 13, 2023

MDEQ Director Fires Back at EPA & NAACP

MDEQ Director Chris Wells accused the EPA trying to use an environmental civil rights complaint to "divert attention from the city of Jackson's own failures."  The EPA's new Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights is investigating the state of Mississippi after the NAACP filed a Title VI complaint on behalf of several Jackson residents.  The plaintiffs charged the state intentionally deprived Jackson of money it needed to ensure it could provide safe drinking water.

The plaintiffs are NAACP President Derrick Johnson, former Mayor Harvey Johnson, Frank Figgers, Gwendolyn Burt, Dr. Akemi Stout, Ed Sivak, Deidre Long, Charles Jones and Jane of the Clan of Doe.  The defendants are Governor Tate Reeves, DFA, MSDH, MDEQ, and State Treasurer David McRae. 

The NAACP accused the state of diverting federal funds meant for Jackson to majority-white communities while denying Jackson's pleas for funding as its water/sewer system collapsed.  The complaint charged MDEQ did not fund Jackson's water infrastructure needs by failing to properly allocate federal funding intended to support such infrastructure. NAACP argued the alleged lack of funding discriminated against Jackson's majority-black population.

MDEQ Director Chris Wells fired back at the EPA in a December 16, 2022 letter that pulled no punches. Director Wells said the NAACP did not 

allege a single fact to support any argument that MDEQ discriminated against the City of Jackson, either through intent or effect, in providing funding for wastewater treatment infrastructure. MDEQ has approved every complete application the City of Jackson has ever submitted for loans under MDEQ's state revolving loan program. The amounts of those loans were determined by the costs of the projects for which the loans were requested, as represented by the City. Thus, MDEQ has never denied funding to Jackson under the terms of the revolving loan program. MDEQ did not discriminate against the City of Jackson.

The response pointed out the amount of the loans are determined by the cost of the project supported by each loan.  MDEQ never denied funding to Jackson nor did it discriminate against Jackson despite the NAACP's claims. The Director took great pains to point out MDEQ has nothing to do with Jackson's water system as it only regulates wastewater treatment.  

MDEQ administers the Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund (WPCRF) loan program.  EPA reviews the program every year and never found any violations.  Director Wells stated  "Allegations are MDEQ has denied funding to Jackson through the WPCRF program are untrue."  

MDEQ approved twelve loans to Jackson from 1992 to 2018.  The total amount of the loans are $84,403,304.  Jackson repaid four loans while eight loans are in repayment.  The remaining balance due is $47,772,824.  Jackson has one active project in progress.  The design of the project is underway and construction is estimated to start in July.  The loan amount for the active project is $31,683,000.  

Thus, MDEQ has approved a grand total of $116,086,304 in WPCRF funding for Jackson's wastewater infrastructure projects.  

The response states Jackson's population is less than 5% of the state's population yet it received 27% of the loans in the program.  It received 49% of the loans issued in 2021 and 54% of the loans issued in 2018.  

Director Wells argued the complaint should be dismissed or limited to loans for which Jackson submitted an application.  Mr. Wells said the EPA is well aware of Jackson's failures to maintain its water system through its various investigations and consent decrees over the last decade.  He said the investigation is "standardless" while the EPA itself only provides "vague" guidelines on how to follow Title Vi.  

The Director saved his best stuff for last as he fired both barrels at the EPA: 

 With regard to the City of Jackson, the EPA Administrator has visited the City at least four times to date to discuss the City's infrastructure problems. The Administrator has repeatedly voiced his concerns about "longstanding injustice" in regard to the City of Jackson, and has stated EPA is focusing "on discrimination through years of infrastructure neglect."¹⁰⁷ However, EPA is well aware  that the City of Jackson's longstanding  infrastructure problems are not caused  by discrimination by either the state or, more specifically relevant to this matter, by MDEQ. EPA has significant information within its agency regarding Jackson's persistent failures to operate and maintain its wastewater infrastructure system going back to 2007. Indeed, these failures culminated in a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice and EPA in 2012 and a federal consent decree between DOJ, EPA, MDEQ, and the City of Jackson designed to address these issues.

MDEQ believes that this investigation by EPA is part and parcel of a political effort to divert attention from the City of Jackson's own failures. MDEQ objects to this effort by EPA and the City of Jackson, through the Complainant NAACP, and requests that EPA make an express finding that MDEQ did not discriminate against the City of Jackson-not just that there is insufficient evidence to prove discrimination.

The Director's letter is posted below. 

Related posts

Ask & Ye Shall Receive. What if you don't ask?  

NAACP files environmental civil rights complaint.  


Kingfish note: What? The NAACP twisted the facts in its complaint? Derrick Johnson might have actually lied? Shocker.  The NAACP complaint complained the Health Department only issued three safe drinking water loans in 25 years, a dreadful number and obvious proof of discrimination. Unfortunately for the Brothers Johnson (Harvey and Derrick), a JJ investigation stomped that claim as a public records request showed the Health Department only issued three loans because the city of Jackson only asked for three loans and none of those requests took place while Hopeless Harvey was mayor.

It is clear the NAACP complaint is completely bogus but what is also clear is Michael Regan and his little minions are going to do everything possible to protect the Mayor from his own incompetence, truth be damned.  



Anonymous said...

When yhe only card you have to play is the race card-

Anonymous said...

I don't think he was mayor in 2007.
He wasn't mayor between 1979 and 2007 when the creeks and other tributaries were not cleared of debris and plant growth.
He didn'tmake the worst of the contracts.
It isn't JUST how the money is distributed,it's how it's spent.
I would remind you the funds for TANF were recieved as well so...whether or not a mayor or Governor should take the blame and what knowledge they could have been expected to have isn't the stuff of sound bytes.

Anonymous said...

The EPA in concert with the NAACP is weaving a national narrative for political purposes. It's all about shifting blame from failing communities to state governments if they are controlled by Republicans. Jackson is simply one of the first to join the train but won't be the last. The facts are not important for this narrative, only the pitiful condition of the cities and the right demographics. They can place their blame, especially in Mississippi, on the old standby of "systemic racism". It's not important to prove the discrimination, just making the accusation is enough to get the desired political effect.... "It ain't our fault, in fact we are trying to save y'all from those racists who want to poison your water!" And the beat goes on...

Anonymous said...

And all this time I thought municipalities were responsible for managing and running their own water systems-

Anonymous said...

It is all part of a choreography to shake down the state. The tactical error they made is the omnibus happened before the 2023 legislative session.

The promises that Henifin is making are hilarious and indicative of someone who hasn't a clue as to what exactly he is dealing with.

Anonymous said...

Oh no, I am shocked.

Everyone including Derrick Johnson knows this is lies.
Derrick also knows it does not matter that it is not true.

We don't deal in facts any longer.

Mainstream media, the White House, and society in general now instead places a premium value on emotions and social justice.

Compare it to Jackson crime explosion. The criminals who murder get a slap on the wrist at most. Derrick will face no consequences for his lies. So...chaos.

Yet the majority of voters are too dumb or already too addicted to the hedonism to apply the outcome of lawlessness in Jackson to then try to prevent the same on a larger societal scale.

Anonymous said...

Bennie has his fingers all in this.

Anonymous said...

The last hope our nation has is at the State level. The left wing is trying kill the State so the Nation will fall without a shot being fired.

Unknown said...

A paraphrased summary of the complaint: "For the last 25 years, we (Jackson) had no idea what we were doing. Furthermore, we really haven't cared that we didn't know what we were doing about, well, anything. However, since we're not the types to take blame for any of our actions or inactions, we're going to do our best to shift the blame to others and ask them to both bail us out of past issues and pay for the inevitable issues going forward. Through our trusted partner, the NAACP, we will be filing suit against anyone who may have any money, and we will do this by deploying the race card, as it has served us so well in the past. To the individual Republican defendants, please let us know when you will be resigning from office. To the State departments, please let us know when and where we can pick up the checks. To avoid having us call you other unsubstantiated names, please help us resolve this matter, on our terms, as quickly as possible."

Anonymous said...

"Who is John Galt?"

Anonymous said...

Fuck it up and look for somebody white to blame.

Anonymous said...

12:04 for the win!

Anonymous said...

Seeing MDEQ get ahead of this lets me know the NAACP was right.

Anonymous said...

Jackson is managed poorly AND the state diverts its funding.
Two things can be true at the same time.

Anonymous said...

The current leadership of EPA exhibits the soft racism of low expectations. According to the current EPA leadership, the poor and ignorant citizens of Jackson are not capable of taking care of themselves or handling their business. So, the state must continue to serve as their task master.

Anonymous said...

This would be a good case for that new House committee on weaponizing the government to look into.

Wow said...

Why is Ed Sivak a plaintiff on this?

Disappointing to see.

Did Hope Credit Union have some unique insight into the alleged loans/funding not coming to Jackson?

Anonymous said...

Harvey Johnson coud have been good...but he chose to play bigshot and proved not.

Anonymous said...

"Seeing MDEQ get ahead of this lets me know the NAACP was right."

Sure - why let facts get in the way of opinions.

Anonymous said...

“Seeing MDEQ get ahead of this lets me know the NAACP was right.”
What are they right about? What funds has the state denied to Jackson? What loans were denied? So far there isn’t any evidence of any such denials. You might better ask, why has the city government not been able to collect millions in unpaid water bills, why has the city not made any real investment in water infrastructure in years and and years, where did the $90 million Siemen’s settlement go, and why isn’t anyone in the city government of Jackson accountable for the gross mismanagement of the water system, not the mention the gross mismanagement city as a whole? Rather than blaming the state, why not blame the people are actually responsible and demand some accountability from them?

Anonymous said...

All these "atty's" in the collective and this is all they have? Where is their community agitator CJ the DJ, "esquire"? Isn't Johnson a lawyer as well?

Anonymous said...

"Who is John Galt?"

From the books Atlas Shrugged.

Anonymous said...

2:42 you tell us!

Anonymous said...

"From the books Atlas Shrugged."


Anonymous said...

The EPA is trying to keep them on the plantation.

Don Drane said...

The MDEQ letter is a well-time and well-aimed shot across the bow of an unmanned federal boat.

It warns that the agency, thus the state, is locked and loaded and suggests, "Come on down, enjoy what Mississippi has to offer and take your best shot while here".

The letter also serves to alert the feds that not everyone down here is barefoot, pregnant and/or stupid. Bless their hearts.

Great response from our state MDEQ folks.

Anonymous said...

"Harvey Johnson coud (sic) have been good...but he chose to play bigshot and proved not." January 13, 2023 at 2:48 PM

I'd like to remind all that other than Stokes, Harvey has been the only city official to round Jacksonians up and board them onto buses. The only difference being that Harvey owned all the Jatran buses he used for tours of Jackson and Stokes never paid rent on those he utilized to haul kids around.

Harvey was a grifter and Stokes picked up that baton.

Anonymous said...

I hope DEQ is awarded the attorney’s fees they deserve!

Tandy Maggart said...

Will Lynn Fitch be defending the agency or will she, like Hood before her, farm out prosecution and defense?

Anonymous said...

“Seeing MDEQ get ahead of this lets me know the NAACP was right”, every time I think we have reached the bottom of ignorance, somebody grabs a shovel, and starts digging.

Kingfish said...

Hopefully she farms it out. This is an environmental law case of sorts and frankly, she doesn't really have anyone capable of handling the case.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

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