Jobs and opportunities for Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens may be in jeopardy if new guidelines from the federal Environmental Protection Agency are not changed.

Four years ago, President Clinton ordered federal agencies to achieve what he called "environmental justice" by considering race in their regulations.

The EPA responded with rules that will prevent the construction or expansion of any factory deemed to have negative environmental impact on minorities, even if that impact is unintentional and the factory meets all environmental standards.

What this means is that job providers who want to bring new facilities to Detroit, Flint, Lansing, or any other high-minority city will find it difficult.

To obey the law, existing factories may abandon urban areas in favor of locations with few minorities, and new factories may no longer consider locating in Michigan’s inner cities, where jobs are needed most.

That’s why Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and Congressman John Dingell are calling for suspension of the EPA guidelines. They know that depriving people of job opportunities because of their skin color is wrong.

Local governments and citizens can best address environmental concerns without giving Washington veto power over the livelihoods of disadvantaged Michiganians.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Joseph Lehman.