EPA chief prioritizes ‘environmental justice’ during visit to Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday that his agency intends to secure $3 billion from the $430 billion Inflation Cut Act. dollars to fund “environmental justice” programs for minority communities.

At a community rally of about 70 people at the Doolittle Community Center, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan and Democratic U.S. Representative Steven Horsford voiced support for the legislation, which Horsford said he would vote when he returned to Washington, D.C. They also talked about controls on the price of prescription drugs. If passed, the law will allow Medicare to directly negotiate the price of certain prescription drugs.

Regan said the legislation would help households save $500 or more each year through cheaper ways to generate energy.

US Representative Steven Horsford, left to right, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan and Cinthia Moore of the Nevada Environmental Justice Coalition. (Greg Haas/8NewsNow)

Help for household budgets included in the law is a big selling point, but the bulk of the legislation is about clean energy – $370 billion to cut greenhouse gas emissions, which has been a focus in President Joe Biden’s administration’s climate change initiatives.

Regan, Horsford, U.S. Representative Susie Lee and other regional EPA officials were scheduled to appear later in the day at Lake Mead.

‘Environmental justice’ – programs to do more for low-income and minority communities that may not be able to afford to do the same things as wealthier neighborhoods – was a major theme of Regan’s remarks. .

“This is the first time in the history of this country that we are beginning to recognize that because of your race, your income, your zip code, you have been treated unfairly – disproportionately affected by pollution, which is having a cascading effect and impacting how our children learn, how they breathe, how they live, where they play,” Regan said. “We’re talking about pumping billions of dollars into our communities to start revive them and uplift them in a way that should have been done all along.”

A recent $300,000 grant announced for the East Valley is one such program, designed to provide better air quality monitoring.

Among the nearly 70 residents who attended the Las Vegas meeting Thursday morning, some had questions about environmental issues that went beyond climate change. One man said more needs to be done to communicate the dangerous levels of air pollution that are happening more often. A woman asked about all the trash in the neighborhoods, a problem she noticed more in the valley washes during the recent monsoon rains. But many questions came back to the effects of the 22-year drought on Las Vegas and the entire Southwest.

A translator assists as a woman in the audience asks a question on Thursday morning. (Greg Haas/8NewsNow)

A woman asked what could be done about the use of water in hotels. Another asked for support for her tree planting program. And after the meeting, residents who were new to Las Vegas asked how the continued explosion of growth could possibly continue. One woman said there needs to be a balance as new property developments spring up in the valley.

Talk of grass removal in parks in favor of desert landscaping has drawn criticism. “Who goes to the park to play on rocks?

Elna M. Lemons