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Exclusive-U.S. EPA Confirms That It Will Name Oregon Lawyer as Lead Environmental Justice Efforts | Top News

Exclusive-U.S. EPA Confirms That It Will Name Oregon Lawyer as Lead Environmental Justice Efforts | Top News

By Jarrett Renshaw, Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters] – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will name Robin Morris Collin, a college professor and lawyer, to lead its efforts to promote environmental justice in communities disproportionately affected by pollution. This was confirmed to Reuters.

The selection of her as senior EPA advisor for environmental justice is part the Biden administration’s efforts to fulfill a promise to ensure that environmental decisions and rules are fair and equitable to low-income communities and minority communities, who have historically been the most affected by pollution from power plants, refineries, and other industries.

“Robin brings a wealth knowledge and experience to the agency and it is the ideal person for ensuring that our most vulnerable populations have a place at the table while we work to deliver environmental justice,” Michael Regan, EPA Administrator said.

He described Collin in a statement to Reuters as “one of our foremost experts and a lifelong advocate” for overburdened communities.

Collin, a Willamette University law faculty, was the founding chair for Oregon’s Environmental Justice Task Force. It was established over a decade ago by the state legislature. The task force has increased the engagement between low-income communities and state policymakers in environmental policy.

She was the first U.S. professor to teach sustainability courses in a law school.

Collin stated in a statement that “It is an honor to serve in this position to protect our land and air and water, and, as part that work, lift up communities underserved so that we can all thrive together.”

The EPA spent months trying to find a candidate for this position. They wanted someone who was credible in pollution-affected communities and could navigate a complex federal regulatory environment.

The proposed fiscal 2022 budget of the EPA includes a new national environmental justice officer under a newly created assistant EPA administrator. This office would potentially elevate the position of senior advisor and require confirmation by senators.

Congress has yet not approved the new position.

The EPA plays a crucial role in delivering the environmental justice goals set forth by President Joe Biden’s Administration. This administration promised to deliver at minimum 40% of the overall benefits from federal investments into climate change action to disadvantaged areas.

The EPA is also updating its EJ Screen tool. It is intended to identify communities in need of environmental justice investments to improve things such as water quality and air quality.

Already, the EPA has taken steps to fulfill its environmental justice promises. Michael Regan, EPA Administrator, ordered inspections of polluting facilities suspected of not complying with water and air regulations unannounced last month.

(Reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing and Managing by Edmund Blair

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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