When you hear the words “Department of Homeland Security,” you probably think of those lovely postal workers uniformed officers who whisk you quickly and smoothly through airport security. But you’d be wrong. Turns out DHS also sees itself as a civil rights agency with a mandate to save the planet from environmental catastrophe.
In February DHS published a nine-page “Environmental Justice Strategy,” which leads off with this explanation:
Our Nation’s vision of homeland security is a homeland safe and secure, resilient against terrorism and other hazards, and where American interests and aspirations and the American way of life can thrive. In seeking to fulfill this vision, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) aspires to avoid burdening minority and low- income populations with a disproportionate share of any adverse human health or environmental risks associated with our efforts to secure the Nation.
You can sign up to receive DHS’s annual implementation progress report, which the policy strategy promises will be “concise.” It will take not one, but two DHS units to “ensure the success” of the environmental justice strategy. But wait, there’s more! “Four other headquarters offices provide critical support for . . . successfully implementing this strategy.” But if you’re a lowly TSA agent not under one of those six offices, not to worry—you’re considered an eco-warrior, too: “Every Component of the Department has a role, some larger, some smaller, in ensuring that environmental justice has been considered in securing the homeland without placing disproportionate burdens on the health and environment of low income populations and minority populations.”
And just in case you’re concerned about non-English speakers, relax:
Communication on initiatives related to environmental justice will implement the DHS Guidance to Federal Financial Assistance Recipients Regarding Title VI Prohibition Against National Origin Discrimination Affecting Limited English Proficient Persons (http://www.dhs.gov/xabout/laws/gc_1277242893223.shtm, along with multi-lingual summaries), and with the Department’s forthcoming language access plan.
Well, it’s certainly a relief that the next foreign shoe-bomber who tries to board a plane will be able to read in his own language that at least we’re doing everything we can to save the planet.