The Environmental Protection Agency will create a new national office of environmental justice to address the disproportionate harm that pollution and climate change has caused in low-income areas and communities of color, the agency has announced.
Michael Regan, the EPA administrator and the first Black man to run the agency, announced the creation of the office with environmental justice and civil rights leaders on Saturday in Warren County, North Carolina, according to a department statement.
“From day one, President Biden and EPA have been committed to delivering progress on environmental justice and civil rights and ensuring that underserved and overburdened communities are at the forefront of our work,” Regan said, according to the agency statement. “With the launch of a new national program office, we are embedding environmental justice and civil rights into the DNA of EPA and ensuring that people who’ve struggled to have their concerns addressed see action to solve the problems they’ve been facing for generations.”
The new national office will combine three smaller midlevel offices of environmental justice, civil rights and conflict prevention and resolution into one high-level office with a Senate-confirmed assistant administrator who reports directly to the agency administrator, according to the agency statement. Biden is expected to select a nominee for this office at a later date.
The new office will oversee the implementation and delivery of a $3 billion climate and environmental justice block grant program created by the Inflation Reduction Act, and will ensure EPA’s implementation of other funding programs provided by the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, according to the agency.
The office is expected to be staffed by 200 people in Washington and across the EPA’s 10 regional offices, according to the agency.