The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has formed a new office designed to help marginalized communities deal with the additional burdens of pollution and climate change, Reuters has reported. The Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights will have 200 EPA employees located at the agency’s headquarters in Washington and 10 regional offices.

“Establishing a new office dedicated to advancing environmental justice and civil rights at EPA will ensure that the lived experiences of underserved communities are central to our decision-making while supporting community-driven solutions,” said the statement. US Vice President Kamala Harris.

One of the main jobs of the new office will be to oversee the distribution of $3 billion in environmental justice grants created by the passage of the Reduce Inflation Act, as part of a $60 billion investment in environmental justice. It will also verify that other EPA programs follow President Biden’s recommendations. Justice40 initiative designed to ensure that 40 percent of certain government investments flow to disadvantaged communities. Finally, it will help communities access grants, enforce civil rights laws, and resolve environmental conflicts.

The new office was inaugurated at an event in Warren County, North Carolina, the site of 1982 protests over the dumping of toxic waste in the region. The civil disobedience actions and resulting arrests failed to stop the 22-acre dump, but gave rise to the modern environmental justice movement. The 40th anniversary of the protests was commemorated by the participants In the past week.

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