U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks at a hearing of the Judiciary Committee on June 11, 2020 in Washington, DC. Carolyn Kaster-Pool / Getty Images This story was originally published on Grist on July 30, 2020 Fifteen years ago, Kamala Harris — San Francisco’s District Attorney at the time — created an environmental justice unit in her office. The goal was to go after the perpetrators of environmental crimes that were hurting some of the city’s poorest residents. The state attorney general’s office had emphasized the need for state and local law enforcement to step up because of a void left by federal authorities in the Bush administration who were busy rolling back environmental protections. "One of the best tools out there to go after polluters is to go after them on a criminal basis," a spokesperson for then–State Attorney General Bill Lockyer told SFGate in 2005. Across the country, communities burdened by pollution and contamination have been calling for that type of accountability at the federal level for decades. Now, even as the Trump administration continues to aggressively roll back environmental regulations, that dream has a better chance of materializing. Harris, as California’s junior senator, is fighting for […]

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