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EPA to step up enforcement in overburdened areas

EPA to step up enforcement in overburdened areas
© Reuters/Pool

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Wednesday it would boost enforcement of environmental laws in areas that face disproportionate impacts from pollution as part of several actions the Biden administration plans to take to advance equity.

The EPA also said it would look at the impacts of potential regulations on underserved, overburdened and tribal communities and consider options that most benefit them, as well as engaging with these communities.

Officials said they will further prioritize benefits to underserved communities in the grant process “to the extent allowed by law.”

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“Too many communities whose residents are predominantly of color, Indigenous, or low-income continue to suffer from disproportionately high pollution levels and the resulting adverse health and environmental impacts,” EPA Administrator Michael ReganMichael ReganOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Manchin-led committee puts forth sprawling energy infrastructure proposal | House to take big step on eliminating Trump-era rules | Controversial St. Croix oil refinery to shutter 'indefinitely' A healthier planet and economy is worth fighting for Controversial St. Croix oil refinery to shutter 'indefinitely' MORE said in a message to all agency staff, according to an EPA press release.

“We must do better. This will be one of my top priorities as Administrator, and I expect it to be one of yours as well,” he added. 

The EPA said its actions were part of a response to a January executive order that directs agencies to “work to redress inequities in their policies and programs that serve as barriers to equal opportunity.”

Studies have shown that that low-income communities and communities of color face greater pollution impacts. 

The Biden administration has taken other steps on environmental justice, including setting a goal of giving 40 percent of benefits of investments in areas like pollution cleanup and clean energy to disadvantaged communities and creating a new White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.