For years as a community activist, Rashida has fought for the human right to clean and safe drinking water. It’s one of her top priorities, especially given her district’s struggles with water quality and water access. Thousands of Detroiters have had their access to water shut off, whether because of lead contamination or inability to pay skyrocketing water bills. Meanwhile, Nestle pays pennies to pump millions of gallons of clean water out of Michigan and into CEOs’ pockets.
Rashida’s district also includes one of the most polluted cities in Michigan, where dozens of industrial facilities are poisoning predominantly Black residents. Communities of color have long been on the front lines of environmental injustices, which has led to more chronic health conditions like asthma—that make people even more susceptible to contracting and dying from COVID-19.
Rashida has seen up-close how corporate polluters dictate our public policy so they can escape accountability. Before serving in Congress, she went up against the Koch brothers and won, forcing them to remove pollutants from Detroit’s riverfront. She’s still taking on corporate polluters and winning, alongside community members most impacted by ongoing pollution.
Here are some of Rashida’s environmental justice accomplishments since beginning to serve in Congress in January 2019:
- Helped create a fund totalling $1.1 billion to stop water shutoffs during the pandemic. Also introduced the Water is a Human Right Act to end water shutoffs, reconnect water services for people whose water access has been shut off, and assist low-income families with paying their water bills—with over 70 members of Congress co-sponsoring the bill.
- Created the bipartisan Get the Lead Out Caucus in the House of Representatives to push for urgent action to remove lead pipes. In coordination with local grassroots water rights coalitions, Rashida and her team organized a Get the Lead Out tour of Michigan communities with lead contamination, where members of Congress heard directly from community leaders on the ground.
- Passed historic amendments that would provide $23 billion to fully replace dangerous lead pipes, prioritizing communities facing environmental racism and protecting our kids from poisonous exposure.
- Passed an amendment putting frontline communities first by remediating toxic PFAS chemicals.
- Created a local environmental justice working group made up of community activists.
- Held two Congressional hearings on environmental justice in her district: In 2022 and in 2019. The 2019 hearing was held in the most polluted zip code in Michigan: 48217, where dozens of industrial facilities are poisoning predominantly Black residents, who face high rates of asthma, cancer, brain damage, heart and respiratory diseases, miscarriages, and more.
- Coordinated 3 different toxic tours for members of Congress and Michigan’s Attorney General, to listen to people on the ground who are leading the way on the frontlines of social and environmental movements for justice.
- Named Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Environment within the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
- Cosponsored multiple bills to tax Big Oil corporations on their excess profits—and send that money back to the people. It’s time for a windfall profits tax on Big Oil corporations that have been raising prices in order to rake in record-setting profits.
- Passed two amendments to increase renewable energy funding and to require the EPA to research the disparate health impacts of fossil fuel emissions.
- Introduced the BUILD GREEN Act to build the green economy of the 21st century with good-paying, union jobs. At least 40% of the funding would have to go to projects in “vulnerable and disadvantaged” communities.
- Taken on the Wall Street banks that fund fossil fuel projects, including using House hearings to question CEOs about exploiting communities like hers, and introducing the Fossil Free Finance Act, which would require the Federal Reserve to prohibit banks from financing new or expanded fossil fuel projects after 2022 and all fossil fuel projects after 2030.
- Launched an investigation into corporate polluter Marathon Oil for its role in funding front groups and lobbying to weaken vehicles’ fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards.
- Hand-in-hand with local lawmakers and neighborhood residents, Rashida has successfully pushed Michigan’s environmental regulation agency to hold Fiat Chrysler (now merged with Stellantis) accountable for dangerous violations of its air quality permit.
- Passed an amendment to help ensure equitable use of public lands (like national parks and forests) in environmental justice communities—defined as “a community with significant representation of communities of color, low-income communities, or Tribal and indigenous communities, that experiences, or is at risk of experiencing, higher or more adverse human health or environmental effects than other communities.”
- Introduced two bills to divest federal workers’ pensions from the fossil fuel industry.
- Cosponsored a bill directing President Biden to declare a climate emergency.
- Sent public letters to Marathon Oil from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to hold them accountable to toxic output.
- Introduced the Petroleum Coke Transparency and Public Health Act with Senator Gary Peters to ensure public health, air, and water is protected.
- Sent public letters to Nestle to hold the corporation accountable for their continued profiting off of our public water.
- Led Congress members in opposing COVID bailouts for the fossil fuel industry.
- Fundraised for local groups like the Eden Park Community Project, which is advocating for residents and fighting for environmental justice—including demanding that the Marathon Oil refinery pay for air quality monitors for the area. Eden Park aims to create much-needed green space and gardens, which would not only bring beauty to the community, but also serve as a buffer to mitigate air pollution.
- Endorsed by environmental groups in multiple elections, including in 2022 by Clean Water Action, Friends of the Earth Action, League of Conservation Voters Action Fund, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club (National & Michigan chapter), and Sunrise Movement.