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Signature Biden Program Won’t Fix Racial Gap in Air Quality, Study Suggests

Published on July 27, 2023

Smoky environment with power lines, factory chimneys and roadway in Cleveland, Ohio 1973
Image Credit: Frank J. Aleksandrowicz | U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

A new analysis has found that the White House’s signature environmental justice program may not shrink racial disparities in who breathes the most polluted air, in part because of efforts to ensure that it could withstand legal challenges.

The program, called Justice40, aims to address inequalities by directing 40 percent of the benefits from certain federal environmental investments toward disadvantaged communities. But the Biden administration, in designing the program, purposely omitted race from the process of calculating who could benefit.

Unless carefully implemented, the program may not work as hoped and could even widen the racial gap by improving the air in whiter communities, which may also be disadvantaged in some ways, faster than in communities of color, according to a peer-reviewed study published Thursday in the journal Science by researchers from several universities and environmental justice groups.

“The results we have here are one piece of evidence that suggests if you don’t account for race/ethnicity, then you won’t be addressing the disparities by race/ethnicity,” said Julian Marshall, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Washington and one of the paper’s authors.

Continue reading at New York Times.

Original story by for New York Times.
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