Carlton Mark Waterhouse graduated from the Howard University School of Law in 1991 and then began his legal career as an attorney with the Environmental Protection agency (EPA), where he served in the Office of Regional Counsel in Atlanta and the Office of General Counsel in Washington, D.C. Waterhouse also holds two degrees from Emory University: a Master of Theological Studies degree and a Ph.D. in Social Ethics (2006). “I pursued my doctorate in social ethics to learn how to create laws and policies that treated people rightly and promoted justice for all,” Waterhouse said in a written statement in 2021, emphasizing that his research and writing were focused on “correcting environmental and other social injustices.”
In 2018, Waterhouse was in Brazil as a visiting professor on a Fulbright Scholarship conducting research on “social dominance in the criminal justice system, and police brutality against unarmed citizens.”
In 2019 Waterhouse took a job as a Professor of Law at his alma mater, Howard University. He had previously served as a Professor of Law, a Dean’s Fellow, and the Director of the Environmental, Energy and Natural Resources Law Program at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law.
From 2019-2021, Waterhouse served on the Board of Directors of the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Law Institute.
In early 2021, the Joe Biden administration nominated Waterhouse, who at the time was the Deputy Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM), to become OLEM’s Assistant Administrator. (Until 2015, OLEM — which develops guidelines for waste disposal, supports states and localities in redeveloping brownfields, and deals with accidental chemical spills through the Superfund program — had been called the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response).
As of July 2022, Waterhouse’s nomination for the post of OLEM’s Assistant Administrator had not yet been confirmed by the U.S. Senate, as the committee considering the nomination had deadlocked twice in its votes.
Waterhouse’s Job As OLEM’s Deputy Assistant Administrator
The trade publication Waste Dive published an interview that it conducted with Waterhouse in May 2022. In it, Waterhouse pushed the idea of so-called “environmental justice,” even though the environment has no legal standing because it is not a person. Noting that President Biden had directed EPA leaders to focus on “integrating environmental justice considerations into our plans and actions,” Waterhouse explained: “Environmental justice begins with understanding what impacts you’re having across all of your activities in the communities where you are located. One example is just to be a good neighbor, meaning you understand the footprint that you have in your neighborhood. You’re aware of the noise impacts; you’re aware of the odor impacts; you’re aware of disease vectors that might be associated with your operation. You’re aware of how particulates from your facility are impacting your neighbor; you’re conscious of surface water runoff coming from your facility and how that’s impacting your local community as well as groundwater impacts that come from your operations. Even truck traffic.”
The EPA’s approach to “environmental justice,” said Waterhouse, “is the way that these programs and efforts make sure, from the beginning, that no communities are left behind and that these industrial operations don’t have to be adversarial in their relationships with communities. In fact, they can enhance community life through employment and through good green practices.”
Claiming that recent data showed “the very close relationship between people’s exposure to pollution and historic practices of redlining across many places in the country,” Waterhouse said: “So operations can understand how they fit within that historical footprint as a better way of getting a sense of environmental injustice as well, to see how past practices of racial discrimination may have influenced some of the zoning and land-use decisions around them. It will help them to better understand how their communities came to exist, who came to live there then, who does live there now, and what limited options might they have had historically.”
Reparations for Slavery
In his 2006 doctoral dissertation at Emory University, titled “The Full Price of Freedom: African American’s Shared Responsibility to Repair the Harms of Slavery and Segregation,” Waterhouse argued that the U.S. owed black Americans, many of whom were descended from slaves, compensation for slavery and the deleterious effects that their ancestors’ servitude supposedly had on present-day blacks. Reparations “usually refers to the debt to be paid to blacks by the American government, corporations, or individuals for the bondage and mistreatment that characterized the bulk of American history,” Waterhouse wrote. “This debt remains a critical feature of social justice in America today.”
In the same dissertation, Waterhouse proposed a model for reparations that “would allow funding to originate from a variety of sources including black communities themselves, the United States government, individual state governments, philanthropists, United States corporations, the United Nations, or a host of other places.” Moreover, he proposed that $50 billion be paid out for reparations — of which $25 billion would be for “economic reparations,” $20 billion would be for “educational reparations,” and $5 billion would be for “political reparations.”
This funding was needed because America had not done enough for blacks, Waterhouse wrote:
Although support for slavery reparations has been popular among leftists for some time, reparations related to the climate is a more abstract, exotic concept that has yet to be widely embraced, even among radicals. Waterhouse wants that to change. He believes that the United States should have to pay so-called climate reparations to poor communities in the U.S. and to poor countries abroad, on the theory that American economic success impoverishes others. This belief is central to the zero-sum world of leftist thinking in which people can only become wealthy under capitalism by taking from others.
How exactly such a climate reparations scheme, which would be extremely complex in nature, would be carried out is unclear. At the same time, Waterhouse is critical of the environmentalist movement itself, arguing that it has left poor people and nonwhite minorities behind. As he said at the American Climate Leadership Summit in August 2020:
American economic preeminence was to blame for the world’s most serious problems, Waterhouse argued at the same 2020 Summit:
Also at the American Climate Leadership Summit of 2020, Waterhouse expounded on the leftist theory of environmental racism, saying that:
EPA Nomination Troubles Because of Waterhouse’s Radical Track Record
As of July 2022, Waterhouse had twice failed to win Senate confirmation for the post of Assistant Administrator of the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management. In December 2021, and again on April 7, 2022, the deadlocked Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works had voted 10-10 on Waterhouse’s nomination, thereby failing tp advance it.
Ranking GOP committee member Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) said at the Senate committee meeting on April 7, 2022, that she was “troubled by Dr. Waterhouse’s personal views on the energy sector and capitalism.” “Dr. Waterhouse’s previous statements calling for the U.S. and other developed countries to pay ‘climate reparations’ to the rest of the world has given me pause,” Capito said in her opening statement. “I believe these viewpoints would impede his ability to carry out the Office of Land and Emergency Management’s duty to impartially consider stakeholder input and would unnecessarily politicize its mission of protecting public health from legacy pollution.”
Waterhouse’s Twitter feed, which had been unearthed by Capito, showed the nominee to be a staunch advocate of “social justice.” For instance, in a post suffixed with the hashtag “#ResistCapitalism,” he had tweeted on April 25, 2015: “The ugly truth about energy. The ends don’t justify the means.” A few weeks later, on May 17, 2015, Waterhouse had used the same hashtag for a tweet that read: “Inexpensive products have a high cost. Workers pay with their happiness, health & their lives.”
Conservatives pushed back against the Waterhouse nomination, BuzzFeed News reported on September 14, 2021:
Reaction to Waterhouse’s views also spurred additional revelations about the nominee’s radicalism. For example, it was learned that in June 2020, Waterhouse had appeared on the China Global Television Network (CGTN) — an entity controlled by the government of Communist China — to call for the defunding of police forces in the United States. Among his noteworthy quotes during that appearance were the following:
By no means was this the first time that Waterhouse had publicly advocated the defunding of police. In August 2021, for instance, he and a number of fellow academics had signed an open letter stating that they were “inspired” by communities that had chosen to slash their police budgets. “Today’s calls to defund the police stem from a recognition that policing is rooted in anti-Blackness and the policy choices to impoverish people and then punish them for the predictable consequences of poverty,” the letter said.