Biden’s new environmental justice office oversees $3 billion in funding

Michael Regan, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), speaks during an event at EPA headquarters in Washington, DC, U.S., on Monday, December 20, 2021.

Samuel Corum | Bloomberg | beautiful pictures

The Environmental Protection Agency on Saturday established an office that will focus support and provide funding for minority communities in the United States disproportionately affected by pollution and environmental problems. other.

The Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights is comprised of more than 200 EPA employees in ten U.S. regions and will be led by an assistant administrator confirmed by the Senate. The office will oversee the delivery of a $3 billion climate and environmental justice block grant program led by recently passed The Inflation Reduction Act, includes $60 billion for environmental justice initiatives.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan made the announcement Saturday in Warren County, North Carolina, a predominantly black community that protested the operation of a hazardous waste landfill four decades ago, and thus inciting the environmental justice movement.

“With the launch of the new country program office, we are putting environmental and civil rights justice in the EPA’s DNA and making sure that those who have struggled to address their concerns see their behavior.” working to solve problems they have faced for generations, “Regan said in a statement.

Early in his presidency, Biden vowed that environmental justice would be a core component of his climate agenda. and sign an executive order launched the Justice40 Initiative, which requires federal agencies to provide at least 40% of the benefits from specific funding to disadvantaged communities overwhelmed by pollution.

The study was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters . Find that communities of color are systematically exposed to higher levels of air pollution than white communities due to the federal housing discrimination practice known as segregation. Black Americans are also 75% more likely to live near hazardous waste production facilities than white Americans, based on Clean Air Task Force, and three times more likely to die from exposure to air pollutants.

“For decades, communities of color and low-income communities have faced disproportionate impacts,” said Robert Bullard, professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University. due to environmental pollution. “The EPA’s efforts under this new office will bring progress to the communities that need to act now.”

The office will enforce civil rights laws and provide new grants and technical assistance in overcrowded communities. It will also work with other EPA offices to incorporate environmental justice into agency programs.

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