Washington, DC – Following through on his commitment to action during his Journey to Justice Tour, US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan announced the first in a series of actions responding directly to concerns of communities historically and disproportionately impacted by pollution. The actions, which range from policy changes to community-driven efforts, reflect Administrator Regan’s commitment to deliver environmental justice and work towards building a better America, and are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to addressing these issues in communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.
“In every community I visited during the Journey to Justice tour, the message was clear – residents have suffered far too long and local, state, and federal agencies have to do better,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The pollution concerns have been impacting these communities for decades. Our actions will begin to help not only the communities I visited on this tour, but also others across the country who have suffered from environmental injustices.”
Administrator Regan traveled to Louisiana, meeting residents in New Orleans, St. John the Baptist Parish, St. James Parish, and Mossville, where he saw the impacts of pollution, climate change and crumbling water infrastructure.
The new Pollution Accountability Team will start as the pilot air monitoring project in Mossville, St. James Parish and St. John the Baptist Parish. EPA will work with residents and community leaders to determine the routes to be traveled by the mobile monitoring vehicle and the contaminants to be monitored. As part of the Administration’s commitment to transparency, EPA Region 6 will make this data available to the public.
EPA will also invest more than $600,000 to procure mobile air pollution monitoring equipment and will be deploying the monitors specifically in Mossville, St. John the Baptist Parish and St. James Parish, among other communities located in the south. This equipment will measure volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including air toxics, and will dramatically improve EPA’s ability to measure pollution quickly and assess situations in real-time. EPA will work with local organizations to host trainings for community members to familiarize them with the technology and the process the Agency uses for its air monitoring.
In St. John the Baptist Parish, EPA used its authority to require the Denka facility to install fence line monitors to identify sources of emissions onsite, allowing the EPA and communities to better understand air pollutants in a quick, reliable way. This month, Denka complied with EPA’s request to install these monitors.
In addition, Administrator Regan sent a letter to Denka and DuPont CEOs pressing the companies to protect residents of St. John the Baptist Parish, including children that learn and play along their fence line, after periodic elevated concentrations of chloroprene were measured nearby. In the letter, Administrator Regan wrote: “…as a parent, I remain extremely concerned about the over 500 children at the elementary school. I am writing to you today to reiterate what I hope are our shared concerns and expectations over the health and well-being of the students. EPA expects DuPont and Denka to take other needed action to address community concerns.” Further, EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance will work with the Department of Justice to redouble their efforts in seeking additional, and timely, avenues of relief for this community.