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The EPA Launches a New Office to Tackle Environmental Challenges in Underserved Communities

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launches a new office focused on civil rights to tackle environmental challenges in historically underserved communities disproportionally affected by pollution and other environmental issues.

On Saturday, EPA Administrator Michael Regan made the announcement alongside environmental justice and civil rights leaders in Warren County, North Carolina. The predominantly Black community protested the operation of a hazardous waste landfill 40 years ago, consequently igniting the environmental justice movement.

The Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights will oversee the delivery of a $3 billion climate and environmental justice block grant program created by the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes $60 billion for environmental justice initiatives.

“With the launch of a new national program office, we are embedding environmental justice and civil rights into the DNA of EPA and ensuring that people who’ve struggled to have their concerns addressed see action to solve the problems they’ve been facing for generations.,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

“The establishment of a new office dedicated to advancing environmental justice and civil rights at EPA will ensure the lived experiences of underserved communities are central to our decision-making while supporting community-driven solutions.,” said Vice President Kamala Harris. “President Biden and I have been clear: we must ground our work to address the climate crisis and our greatest environmental challenges in justice and equity.”

Recently published research in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters found that historical redlining is associated with present-day air pollution disparities in U.S. cities. “In the United States, communities of color are exposed to higher levels of air pollution at every income level. As with other environmental justice (EJ) issues, the causes of systemic racial/ethnic air pollution exposure disparities are complex and rooted in part in historical patterns of exclusion and discrimination.”

The new office is the latest major action under President Biden’s plan to embed environmental justice, civil rights, and equity across the government, and follows the launch of several initiatives outlined by the administration.

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos

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