Legislation would identify air pollution “hotspots,” increase community engagement, and inform management decisions
Washington (July 27, 2021)—Today, Senator Edward J. Markey, Chair of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, introduced the Environmental Justice Air Quality Monitoring Act, cosponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill).  The legislation authorizes $100 million annually to establish a five-year pilot program for hyperlocal air quality monitoring projects in environmental justice communities. Under the program, state, local, and Tribal air agencies would be able to partner with local nonprofit organizations or air quality data providers to identify block-level hotspots for multiple pollutants, publish data and build online mapping tools to inform local communities and air pollution managers about where poor air quality exists, and recommend action for reducing pollution burdens in identified hotspots.
“The continuing respiratory pandemic has shed light on the deep-rooted injustices of air pollution in communities across our country. Black, Brown, and low-income families have for too long been overburdened by the dirtiest air without enough federal support to address it,” said Senator Markey. “But we can’t manage what we don’t measure, and one size does not fit all from block to block. With more air quality monitors to capture hyperlocal data and inform pathways to reduce pollution in these hotspots, we can help ensure that healthy air is no longer determined by ZIP code.”
A copy of the bill text can be found HERE.
This legislation is endorsed by American Lung Association, Clean Air Task Force, WE ACT, American Thoracic Society, Aclima, Dr. Sacoby Wilson (Director of the Center for Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health), Margaret Gordon (Co-Director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project), and Gloria Walton (President & CEO of The Solutions Project).
“Too many communities have been waiting far too long for clean, healthy air,” said Harold Wimmer, President & CEO of the American Lung Association. “Historically underinvested communities and communities of color are more likely to be located near pollution sources. Thank you to Senator Markey for introducing the Environmental Justice Air Quality Monitoring Act. Better understanding local levels of air pollution is an important step toward meeting the urgent need of meaningful pollution reductions in communities facing the greatest burden.”
“This is time for environmental and climate justice to matter to all everyday people,” said Margaret Gordon, Co-Director of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project.