N.C. (AP) — Forty years after a predominantly Black community in Warren County, North Carolina, rallied against hosting a hazardous waste landfill, President Biden’s top environment official visited what is widely considered the birthplace of the environmental justice movement Saturday to unveil a national office that will distribute $3 billion in block grants to underserved communities burdened by pollution.
by civil rights leaders and participants from the 1982 protests, Michael Regan, the first Black administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, announced he is dedicating a new senior level of leadership to the environmental justice movement they ignited.
The Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights — comprised of more than 200 current staff members in 10 US regions — will merge three existing EPA programs to oversee a portion of Democrats’ $60 billion investment in environmental justice initiatives created by the Inflation Reduction Act. The president will nominate an assistant administrator to lead the new office, pending Senate confirmation.
“In the past, many of our communities have had to compete for very small grants because EPA’s pot of money was extremely small,” Regan said in an interview. “We’re going from tens of thousands of dollars to developing and designing a program that will distribute billions. But we’re also going to be sure that this money goes to those who need it the most and those who’ve never had a seat at the table.”