"ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH, La. — As white smoke wafted from a massive oil and gas refinery that sits near his backyard, Michael Coleman reminisced about the sweet days of his childhood, before sugar cane fields that stretched for miles were sold and replaced by chemical companies that wiped out the “nice little community we had here.”
Coleman, 65, has told the story of how his neighbors gave up their homes and fled the chemical corridor known as Cancer Alley many times, but never to a member of the president’s Cabinet. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan listened while standing about three feet to his left.
Nearly a year after President Biden vowed to make environmental justice a centerpiece of his climate policy, Regan traveled to an area where African Americans experience some of the worst pollution in the nation and suffer from cancer rates well above the U.S. average. He touted a just-enacted infrastructure package that provides $300 billion for projects targeting pollution, including up to $15 billion to replace lead pipes that poison drinking water, as evidence of the new administration’s focus on disadvantaged communities."