New York Times, July 20, 2023, Signature Biden Program Won’t Fix Racial Gap in Air Quality, Study Suggests
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. The Supreme Court recently struck down race-based affirmative action in college admissions, a ruling that some believe could affect federal environmental programs.
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