Widening a highway is both an environmental AND civil rights issue?

Was a time when “civil rights” meant things like equal opportunities in employment and schooling for racial and ethnic minorities. And “environmental” meant something affecting the environment. But government twists everything that’s good.

Now leaders in Arlington County, Virginia where I live say plans for three high-occupancy toll lanes on the nearby highways will make traffic worse on nearby roads. But it’s not just a transportation problem, they say in a federal lawsuit; it’s also a civil rights issue.

Yes, invoking the Civil Rights Act, they’re requesting a more stringent environmental study of the toll-lane project, citing among the chief concerns the potential effect of air pollution on the health of low-income and minority residents near the highways.

Arlington County Attorney Stephen MacIsaac said the suit was not intended to “create some kind of wedge issue on race or income,” according to the Washington Post. “We’re not just throwing this out there to throw in the race element,” MacIsaac said. “We believe this is an environmental justice issue.”

Right. So cleaning up Lake Erie so that it no longer burns and singing “We shall overcome” with the firehoses turned on you has come down to this.