EPA Administrator Pledges to ‘Do Better’ for The Environment of Poor Communities

In November, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan visited Jackson, Miss., to examine the city’s low water quality at a primary school where students are forced to drink bottled water and use temporary bathrooms outside the building, The New York Times reported.

The Environmental Protection Agency stated on Wednesday that it will increase supervision and regulation of federal air and water quality laws, notably in communities of color, which are particularly affected by pollution.

“Seeing the situation for myself, talking directly to community members, it is startling where we get to this point — the point where children miss school days because the water isn’t safe,” Regan said.

The environmental conditions he saw in many areas of the country were “unacceptable in the United States of America,” as he said.

Addressing racial inequities, especially those connected to the environment, is a top priority for President Joe Biden. He formed an advisory committee comprised of some of the environmental justice movement’s forefathers.

Biden told agencies to consider environmental justice while making decisions. He also promised that at least 40% of the gains from federal expenditures in climate and sustainable energy projects would go to disadvantaged communities.

However, Cecilia Martinez, President Biden’s senior environmental justice appointee, and David Kieve, another appointee who had handled White House engagement with environmental justice advocates, both departed their positions recently.

The withdrawals have raised questions about President Biden’s environmental justice action plan’s viability.

In a media briefing on Tuesday, Regan did not explicitly address the matter, but he did say he had a responsibility to neglect places where “folks have been waiting long enough” for government attention.

As part of the EPA’s Journey to Justice tour, he has spent the year before traveling communities and engaging with community people.

Regan said the EPA had posted a warning of disobedience to Jackson, Miss., a mainly Black community whose people have suffered from tainted drinking water as well as persistent water outages, for failing to fix infrastructure to provide safe drinking water in a “timely fashion.”