With a series announced Wednesday by the Environmental Protection Agency, the agency is pledging to address environmental justice concerns in marginalized communities through a series of actions. According to Michael Regan, EPA Administrator, some vulnerable populations in South could see changes “immediately.”
Regan stated Thursday that “These communities deserve to be able to know what’s going on in the air they breathe and in the water they drink,” Major Garrett, CBS News’ CBS News correspondent, said. “They deserve to know in real-time.”
The EPA will hold polluting plants accountable by mobilizing resources to invest into air monitoring and unannounced inspections. The EPA also identified specific actions that could be taken by communities to address community concerns.
The agency’s Policies come following a Tour through towns in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas to learn about and protect communities from pollution. Regan said that the agency was focused on the most vulnerable communities in the three southern states due to the persistent environmental justice concerns they have faced. According to the EPALow-income and minority communities are more likely to be affected by environmental hazards and to live near contaminated land.
“These people are being ignored for decades, so we really wanted to put faces to the issues that we have heard about,” the administrator stated.
He acknowledged that agencies at all levels “have work to do better”, but noted that the Biden administration had made environmental justice a “centerpiece of its work.”
According to the EPA, the latest actions of the EPA will make $20 million grants from American Rescue Plan available for improving the air quality in vulnerable areas. The agency also revealed Wednesday a project called the Pollution Accountability Team. It has the goal of providing strict environmental compliance and monitoring throughout South.
Regan stated that some communities in the three states have already seen improvements as a result of the plan. Louisiana is one example where Regan said that the agency has issued notices in violation to industries following recent inspections that found violations in air monitoring.
He said, “We initiated our action immediately and have heard from the community how they are very grateful that they didn’t have to wait too much to see us put money where our mouths were.”
Tori B. Powell is a CBS News reporter. Reach her at email@example.com