Michael Regan is the first Black man to serve as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. His list of accomplishments prior to joining the agency includes securing the largest coal ash contamination clean up in the country’s history. 

Decades after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called for environmental justice, Michael Regan is leading the push for environmental equity. 

The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical graduate has a track record of gold when it comes to championing civil rights within disenfranchised communities. He currently serves as the 16th administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, where he recently launched a new effort to combat carbon emissions by replacing traditional yellow school buses with electric vehicles on Jan. 8. 

“When we take these dirty diesel school buses off the road and replace them with electric or low carbon school buses, we are reducing the toxic exposure of those diesel fumes that all of our children are breathing and smelling every day to and from school,” Regan told the AFRO. “The teachers that have to do bus duty, they’re exposed to those toxins and so are our bus drivers” 

The climate footprint of a diesel school bus is about 3.3 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per mile, more than double the per-mile footprint for a bus powered on the average U.S. electric grid, according to the federally funded Argonne National Laboratory. 

“This is a really important day for public health. We know transportation contributes significantly to the climate crisis.” 

“I think one of the things that this program will show is how these buses really actually improve the quality of life within the community. And for the school, it’s a reduction in cost,” Brenda Mallory, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality expressed.  “We know that the cost of maintaining school buses that are electric in particular is much less because there’s just much less to do to keep them on the road.” 

The project is a grant competition and 67 applicants have already been selected to receive funds to replace 2,700 school buses in 287 school districts. One of the selected areas includes Dekalb County, Ga. where the Environmental Protection Agency made their announcement.  

“This is a really important day for public health. We know transportation contributes significantly to the climate crisis. And in both instances, whether it’s a climate crisis or we think about toxic pollution, Black and Brown people are on the front lines, and they’re disproportionately impacted,” Regan shared. 

Their school system’s population primarily serves communities of color with 59.3 percent of students identifying as Black and 20.4 percent as Hispanic. An overwhelming majority of the awardees are projected to be within low income rural and tribal communities. 

“We know that when you look at the criteria that we’ve designed, it is designed to hit those communities that have been disproportionately impacted the most and also who are prepared to use these resources to keep a competitive edge in the 21st century clean energy economy,” said Regan, a native of Goldsboro, N.C. , a small agricultural town in the coastal plain.  

The program will be funded by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, however the U.S is currently producing a record amount of oil per day under this administration. Approximately 13.2 million barrels of oil are produced domestically each day according to the U.S. Energy Information System.  

The new initiative hopes to cut down on toxic emissions and adds on to the commitment to fund new transportation for students through the Clean School Bus Program’s 2022 Rebates. Applications are open to all public-school districts up until the Jan. 31 deadline. Those interested in applying can find more information at epa.gov 


SOURCE: afro.com 

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