SOJC profs say EPA cuts would hurt at-risk communities

EPA head Scott Pruitt

UO School of Journalism and Communication professors Deborah Morrison and Nicole Smith Dahmen take a look at President Trump’s plan to sharply reduce funding for the Environmental Protection Agency in an article on Desmog, which previously appeared in U.S. News and World Report.

The Trump administration has proposed cutting EPA funding by 31 percent, including reducing staff by 25 percent. According to some experts, the groups that will be most affected are indigenous communities, people living in poverty and at-risk communities, many of whom are people of color.

Included in the cuts are all funding and staff for the Office of Environmental Justice, which has the mission of integrating environmental justice into the EPA’s programs and policies. Morrison and Dahmen say that if that office and related programs are not funded, the EPA will have no method of communicating with the constituents it serves.

 “The planned cuts in EPA programs would exacerbate this existing environmental racism further by severing a critical communication channel between the federal government and disadvantaged communities,” they wrote.

However, several grassroots organizations, including Upstream Research in Oregon, are trying to bridge the new communication gap, with varying results. But the professors say no organization, or group of organizations, can expect to fully replace the extensive reach of the EPA.

For the full article, see “In Planned EPA Cuts, US to Lose Vital Connection to At-risk Communities.”

Dahmen is a professor of visual communication specializing in graphic design and visual ethics. Her research focuses on ethical and technological issues in visual communication, emphasizing photojournalism in the digital age.

Morrison teaches advertising for the UO, researching such topics as the creative process and training grounds in the advertising industry.