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EPA acts on environmental justice for 3 Gulf Coast States
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EPA acts on environmental justice for 3 Gulf Coast States

WASHINGTON (AP), The Environmental Protection Agency has taken a series of enforcement measures to address air pollution and unsafe drinking water in three Gulf Coast states. Administrator Michael Regan leads a Journey to Justice tour last fall.

Regan stated that unannounced inspections will be conducted at chemical plants, refineries, industrial sites, and other sites that could pollute air and water or cause health problems for residents nearby. It will also install air monitoring equipment along Louisiana’s chemical corridor to improve enforcement at plastics and chemical plants between New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans. This region is home to many cancer hotspots that are well above the national average.

The EPA also sent a notification to Jackson, Mississippi, stating that the city’s aging and overloaded drinking system violates the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The order directs Jackson to create a plan to rectify the major deficiencies identified in the EPA report within 45 calendar days.

Separately, Regan appealed to state and city officials to use nearly $79 Million in Mississippi underfunding funds The bipartisan infrastructure bill to solve some of the most dire water needs in Jackson and other areas of need across Mississippi.

These actions were just a few of the many that were taken as a response to Regans’ November tour. Regan visited low-income communities, mostly minorities, in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas as part a federal effort to draw attention to communities that have been adversely affected by decades worth of industrial pollution.

The EPA has prepared a Toxics Release Inventory that shows that 56% of people living near toxic sites like refineries, landfills, chemical plants and chemical plants are minorities. Chronic health problems such asthma, diabetes, and hypertension are some of the negative effects.

Regan stated in a statement that every community I visited on the Journey to Justice tour was clear: residents have suffered too long. Local, state, as well as federal agencies need to do better. Our actions will not only help the communities I visited on the Journey to Justice tour, but also those across the country who have suffered environmental injustices.

Regan spoke Tuesday to reporters in a conference phone call. He said that the unannounced inspections of chemical plant and other sites would keep these facilities on their toes.

Regan stated that inspections currently take place on a scheduled basis or with advance notice. However, that is about changing. He said that we are increasing our aggressiveness to use a tool in our toolbox that has been there for quite a while.

He said that EPA will use all its tools to hold noncompliant facilities accountable if they are found,

Three parishes in Louisiana will be the first to begin a pilot project that combines high-tech monitoring of air pollution with additional inspectors. These parishes, which are home to numerous industrial sites, have long been plagued with water and air pollution.

Regan, an ex-North Carolina environmental regulator, has made environmental justice a top priority ever since. Assuming the role of EPA head last year. The issue is personal to me as the first Black person to lead the agency, he told The Associated Press November.

Many of these people remind me of myself when I look at them. Regan said that they look exactly like my son and it is really hard to see them questioning the quality of their drinking waters.

The $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure legislation signed by Senators John and St. James will benefit historically marginalized communities like St. John, St. James, and New Orleans, Jackson, Mississippi, and Houston. President Joe Biden, Regan said. The law provides $55 billion for water infrastructure and wastewater infrastructure. A broad climate and social policies bill pending in the Senate would pump more than twice that amount into EPA programs to clean up the environment and address water and environmental justice issues.

Regan stated that the EPA has ordered a former DuPont petrochemical facility in La Place, Louisiana to install fence-line monitors in order to detect emissions from the site as part of its enforcement action. Denka, a Japanese conglomerate, now owns the plant.

The agency also stated it will increase scrutiny of a proposed expansion at Formosa Plastics in St. James. Additionally, it issued a notice to Nucor Steel for releasing hydrogen sulfide or other harmful chemicals.

Regan said that he spoke with New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell about Gordon Plaza, a city neighborhood built on the site of a former toxic landfill. Gordon Plaza was declared a Superfund Site in the 1990s. However many families, mostly Black, still live there.

Regan said that the EPA will start reviewing the site in March. They will then add nine homes to the site that were not included in previous plans to help families relocate. Officials from the city hope to use money derived from the infrastructure law for relocation of families and construction of a solar farm.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press All rights reserved.

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