World

Biden launches office of environmental justice

WARRENTON, NC –

Forty years after a predominantly black community in Warren County, North Carolina, rallied against organizing a hazardous waste landfill, President Biden’s top environmental official has visited. what is widely seen as the birthplace of the environmental justice movement on Saturday to open a national office that will distribute $3 billion. USD grants to underserved communities bearing the brunt of pollution.

Joined by civil rights leaders and participants from the 1982 protests, Michael Regan, the first Black administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, announced that he would dedicate a level new senior leader for the environmental justice movement they launched.

The Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights – which includes more than 200 current employees in 10 US regions – will merge three existing EPA programs to oversee part of the $60 billion investment by Democrats on environmental justice initiatives created by the Inflation Reduction Act. The President will nominate an assistant administrator to lead the new office, pending confirmation by the Senate.

“In the past, many of our communities have had to compete for very small grants because EPA proceeds are so small,” Regan said in an interview. “We are going from tens of thousands of dollars to developing and designing a program that will deliver billions of dollars. But we will also make sure that this money goes to those who need it most and those who need it most. never sat at the table.”

Biden has advocated environmental justice as a focus of his climate agenda since his first week in office when he signed an executive order pledging 40% of the overall benefit from some investments. federal clean energy for disadvantaged communities that are heavily polluted.

Now, Regan said, this new office combines environmental justice with the central structure of the EPA, equating it with other leading offices such as aviation, land and water, and reinforcing its principles. it in a way that will outlast the Biden administration.

In 1978, North Carolina designated Warren County, a small community of black farmers along the Virginia border, to dispose of trucks carrying soil laced with highly carcinogenic chemical compounds that would later pollute water contamination.

When the first trucks rolled into town in 1982, hundreds of residents flooded the streets, blocking the way to the landfill. Although they were unable to shut down after six weeks of nonviolent protests and more than 500 arrests, their efforts have been hailed by civil rights leaders as the impetus for a global uprising against segregation. environmental racism in minority communities.

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