Calling environmental inequality one of today's civil rights battles, the New Jersey senator said during a campaign stop in the South Carolina capital that the federal government hasn't done enough to ensure all Americans have equal access to clean, healthy communities.
"I am going to make sure we have a government that stays rooted in communities like yours," Booker said at Allen University, a historically black school. "The civil rights issues that we face today are no less urgent that the civil rights issues that they faced in the 1960s."
He spoke in response to a student who talked about contaminated water sources in his hometown of Denmark, South Carolina. It's an issue Booker has discussed in previous stops in the state. Booker released what he is characterizing as his environmental justice agenda, charging in a statement that the Trump administration "has gutted the EPA, rolled back clean air and clean water protections, and allowed polluters to go unchecked, causing immense harm and suffering by vulnerable communities."
He promised to strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency and reverse what he said were administration rollbacks of environmental safeguards. Booker also proposed more EPA workers and resources to ensure safe drinking water. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has said unsafe drinking water is the world's most immediate public health issue.
"The urgency that I feel in dealing with this is that urgency of love," Booker said.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP