July 29, 2021 14:21

Can Revamped EPA Advance Environmental Justice for Minority Communities?

The appointment of Michael Regan to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the first Black man to lead the agency in its 50-year history, has fueled expectations that environmental justice will be a top priority, writes  a professor of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, in an article for The Conversation. Despite activism from a growing environmental justice movement, widespread evidence that pollution over-burdens poor and minority communities, and a Clinton-era executive order that mandated federal action, the EPA has so far largely failed to modify its programs, policies and decision-making processes in response, according to Konisky .

EPA officials can advance environmental justice immediately by striving for inclusive decision-making that empowers people of color and other communities suffering from pollution burdens to be involved in decisions that affect their lives, he noted, adding that the agency should prioritize enforcement activities in overburdened communities where numerous studies have shown that federal and state agencies conduct fewer inspections and impose lighter penalties on offending pollution sources.

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