D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine participated in an event with The Sierra Club earlier this fall to tout his offices work with the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and lead hazard enforcement. “[The OAG] should play a more active role,” Racine said. The Sierra Club, which has been operating for 125 years, claims that they are the largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization in U.S.
“We worked real hard to get full-time employees,” Racine said of two staff members now focused on environmental issues in D.C. “Please know that our legislative team is pleased to work with you,” he told the gathered Sierra Club supporters.
Racine pointed out that in communities of color, “racial environmental justice is very important.” He said his office is cracking down on landlords that do not correct lead issues in their units and said more enforcement is needed across the city. “Lead is a big deal,” Racine emphasized. He said his office is also focused on issues with asthma as it relates to zoning, land use, and new development.
When asked how his office engages with environmental issues in new developments, Racine said, “you’re speaking about social environmental justice” and that environmental conditions are “terrible” in underserved communities.
Environmental justice is at the forefront of conversations of racial equity and development in the District of Columbia. “The housing work that we do is we go after slumlords,” Racine said, adding that when a District government agency is sued, the Office of the Attorney General is also the law firm of the District of Columbia.
Racine admitted that the government is involved in a lot of the new developments in the city and said “My goal is to play a more neutral role in development.”