Commentary by Thomas Sheffield

This month, we celebrate one of the most important holidays, Earth Day.  As we come to the final months, (we hope) of the global pandemic, we must demand the government tackle the water crisis issue.  Water is one of the things most take for granted each day.  The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 was established to assure that the public is provided with safe drinking water.  The Act is to be enforced by the EPA.

Our water supply and the systems in which we get our water are in jeopardy.  We get water through our aging infrastructure which has been neglected for decades by both Republic and Democratic leaders.  This is an issue all over the country.  Throughout the decades, our leaders have either ignored the issue or chose to kick the can down the road.  Well, the can has reached a brick wall and we cannot kick it any further.  

We live in the United States and there is no reason for any tax paying American should not have access to clean water.  We are seeing this issue all over the US from Flint Michigan to Jackson Mississippi and Centerville Illinois.  Water access is an issue for thousands of black people in America.  Climate change has made this crisis worse.  Stronger storms have caused more damage to the infrastructure no one wants to pay for.

Unfortunately, black citizens have had to deal with environmental injustice more than any other group.  Black homeowners have been victims of redlining.  We were forced to live in areas with failed or no infrastructure.  We were also forced to purchase homes that depreciated in value.  Whereas our white friends families were able to build generational wealth through homeownership.  The government chose to build infrastructure projects in white areas of town and the communities of color were left out of these investments.  

President Biden has proposed a $2 trillion infrastructure spending plan paid for by raising the corporate tax rate.  $111 billion would go toward clean drinking water, including replacement of all lead pipes and service lines. 

If you thought our work was done just by electing Biden to the White House, you were wrong.  We must now work harder to ensure something gets done.  The Republicans on both the state and local levels have made it clear they do not support the plan.  Republicans know and agree that something needs to be done but have not offered any plan of their own.  The hypocritical governors of Mississippi and Tennessee have both publicly denounced the plan but have said they would not turn down the money given to them if the bill passed.  We must demand the Republicans show an alternative plan of how they would pay for this investment if they want to continue to lead.  Otherwise they got to go!!!   

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