Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael S Regan announced on November 4 a series of initial actions that directly respond to concerns that he saw during his stop to Puerto Rico in his Journey to Justice tour this past summer. Regan also emphasized current efforts from the agency to address health and environmental challenges. During his tour, Regan listened to the local communities of Puerto Rico as they voiced environmental justice concerns.
He pledged that the EPA would begin addressing the disproportionate impacts of pollution in Salinas, Guayama, and the surrounding areas. He said that the EPA would also work on issues related to the San Juan Bay Estuary System and challenges with access to clean drinking water in rural communities. Regan added that the EPA would address solid waste issues across the territory.
“For too long, communities in Puerto Rico have suffered untold inequities – from challenges with access to clean drinking water to fragile infrastructure that cannot withstand the increase and intensity of storms brought on by climate change, as evidenced by Hurricane Fiona,” Regan said, in a press release from the EPA.
Regan toured historically marginalized communities of the American South during his tour and visited Puerto Rico in July of this year. He met with both community groups and environmental activists while visiting areas of Puerto Rico that are still recovering from 2017’s Hurricane Maria.
Many residents of Puerto Rico face issues of industrial pollution and lack of access to clean water. These challenges also underlie the territory’s recent ongoing recovery from Hurricane Fiona.
“I saw many of these concerns firsthand while meeting with community leaders during my Journey to Justice tour this summer, and I committed to taking action,” Regan continued, in the press release.
“These initial actions are just the beginning of our work to deliver results for the people of Puerto Rico, and EPA will continue to protect the health and safety of communities that have been left behind for far too long.”