EJ Leaders Applaud Passage of Chair Castor Proposal To Monitor Pollution At Block Level
WASHINGTON - On Thursday, environmental justice leaders applauded Chair Kathy Castor of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis for successfully adding an amendment to the INVEST in America Act that will expand access to hyperlocal air quality monitoring and help cities identify pollution hotspots in underserved communities.
“Securing environmental justice is a vital priority as we work on solving the climate crisis,” said Chair Castor. “I’m grateful to the many environmental justice leaders who made today’s victory a reality, as we keep working to secure cleaner air for historically-excluded communities.”
Supporters of the amendment include Peggy Shepard, Executive Director of WE ACT and Co-Chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council; Dr. Sacoby Wilson, Director of the Center for Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health (CEEJH) at the University of Maryland School of Public Health; Margaret Gordon, Co-Director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project; Heather McTeer Toney, Senior Advisor to Moms Clean Air Force; and Gloria Walton, President and CEO of The Solutions Project.
Specifically, Chair Castor's amendment will allow cities to better track the impact of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions at the block level, especially in communities of color and other historically-excluded communities, by incorporating hyperlocal air quality mobile monitoring into the Department of Transportation's Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program. The House of Representatives passed the amendment on Thursday as part of the INVEST In America Act, a comprehensive surface transportation bill that makes transformational investments in America's roads, bridges, transit, rail, and wastewater and drinking water infrastructure.
"It is critical that we support the frontline communities most impacted by air pollution," said Peggy Shepard, Co-founder, Executive Director of WE ACT For Environmental Justice. "Investment in hyperlocal mobile air monitoring within the CMAQ program is important for environmental justice communities and will help reduce the impacts of transportation related emissions on public health."
"I strongly support Chair Castor's amendment (#89) to H.R.3684. People of color have historically been exposed to disproportionately high levels of transportation-related pollution such as particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and have borne higher health burdens and risks (asthma, cancer, heart disease) as a result. This is particularly true in communities impacted by goods movement (ports, rail, truck traffic) in places like North Charleston, SC, Houston, TX, Savannah, GA, Richmond, CA, New Orleans, LA, Detroit, MI, Newark, NJ, among many others. But conventional air quality monitors are unable to identify and map pollution at the community-scale," said Dr. Sacoby Wilson, Associate Professor at the University of Maryland. "With hyperlocal mobile air monitoring in the CMAQ program, communities across the country will finally have the tools to understand air pollution at the block-by-block level that affects their daily lives and health."
"While there is a long way to go to address the systemic injustices associated with infrastructure development in this country, the Castor amendment represents an important step in the right direction," said Heather McTeer Toney, Senior Advisor to Moms Clean Air Force. "This scientific approach to measuring air pollution at the block-level can help support climate action and support the improvement of children’s health and environmental justice now."
"Environmental Justice communities have been calling for healthy air, safe water, good jobs and reliable transit for decades," said Gloria Walton, President and CEO of The Solutions Project. "Today, House Democrats made good on their promise to serve the people with amendments to the INVEST Act that will improve lives in our communities, block by block. That means creating family-supporting jobs, requiring street-level air quality monitoring, investing billions of dollars in public transit, and modernizing our water infrastructure. This is the change we need in Washington. Let’s create the future we want."
A letter of support from Aclima, a technology company that specializes in hyperlocal air quality and greenhouse gas measurement and analysis, is available here.
A full statement from Chair Castor on the INVEST In America Act is available here.
More information on the INVEST in America Act, including bill text and section-by-section analysis, is available on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee website.
- In June of 2020, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Democrats released the majority staff report Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America. This report provides a roadmap for Congress—a Climate Crisis Action Plan—to build a prosperous, clean energy economy that values workers, advances environmental justice, and is prepared to meet the challenges of the climate crisis.
- House Democrats have already passed more than 250 of the recommendations in the Climate Crisis Action Plan, and have successfully worked to turn over 100 of them into law.