EPA’s New Environmental Justice Arm to Disburse $3 Billion
“It’s about changing how our government works and who it works for,” said Michael Regan, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), during his September 2022 announcement of the new Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights (OEJECR). Regan spoke near a hazardous waste site in North Carolina that is legendary for giving rise to the environmental justice movement in the U.S.
The new office expands EPA’s environmental justice and civil rights efforts at both the national level and the local level—the latter by adding more than 100 staff members across EPA regions who will be devoted to these efforts.
Overseeing the distribution of $3 billion in block grants to disadvantaged communities will be one of OEJECR’s top priorities. These grants, authorized by the Inflation Reduction Act, will cover things like air-quality monitoring, reducing risk from urban heat islands, implementing resilience measures, and even improving indoor air quality in buildings, as we previously reported in our coverage of the new law.
But OEJECR has already gotten started on other initiatives too, such as working with the agency’s Office of Land and Emergency Management to implement an environmental justice action plan for its activities, which include cleanup of Superfund sites.
“We are embedding environmental justice and civil rights into the DNA of EPA,” Regan said in a press release.
Vice President Kamala Harris added that the new office “will ensure the lived experiences of underserved communities are central to our decision-making.”
President Joe Biden has not yet proposed an appointee—who will have to be confirmed by the Senate—to head the office.
For more information:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Melton, P. (2022, October 26). EPA’s New Environmental Justice Arm to Disburse $3 Billion. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/newsbrief/epa-s-new-environmental-justice-arm-disburse-3-billion