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August 19, 2021

Barragán Welcomes EPA Administrator Regan to Los Angeles to Highlight Environmental Justice Issues

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 19, 2021

WILMINGTON, Calif. – Today, Congresswoman Nanette Diaz Barragán led U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan on a tour of California’s 44th Congressional District to highlight environmental justice issues in Los Angeles County, meet with advocates, and hear from local people affected by polluted sites.

Congresswoman Barragán and Administrator Regan met with residents impacted by a toxic industrial scrap metal site, families fighting urban oil drilling, and environmental justice advocates for port communities.

During a stop on the tour outside the Wilmington Boys and Girls Club to highlight the dangers of oil wells in a residential neighborhood, Congresswoman Barragán made the following statement about the sites she brought Administrator Regan to witness:

 

Thank you for being here today

We’re grateful EPA Administrator Michael Regan is with us in Wilmington, in California’s 44th Congressional District.

I’ve invited EPA Administrator Regan to our Congressional District to highlight some of the many environmental justice issues in our communities and to hear directly from our neighbors affected by these issues.

It is a terrible injustice that people living in low-income neighborhoods or in communities of color are often exposed to severe pollution that our neighbors in wealthier communities are not.

This pollution harms the health of people in these communities, and it is wrong.

All of us deserve protection from dangerous pollution, regardless of where we live.

Could you imagine oil tanks like those (pointing) or an oil pumpjack like the one over there (pointing) next to a Boys and Girls Club in Malibu or another affluent community?  I could not.

And they should not be next to a Boys and Girls Club in Wilmington, either.  That is an environmental injustice.

From where we stand right now, in this residential neighborhood, there are more than 20 active oil and gas wells within a half mile.

We must act.  This fall, I will introduce legislation to establish a 2,500-foot public health buffer around oil and gas production – something my constituents have been asking for.

Earlier today, Administrator Regan and I spoke with people who live near the old Central Metals facility in Walnut Park – an unincorporated part of LA County near Huntington Park.

For 15 years, local residents reported bad odors, a metallic taste in their mouths, and severe truck traffic.

An EPA investigation is underway to determine if the soil of the homes around the site is toxic, and whether Central Metals can be declared a Superfund site.

Central Metal never should have been allowed to operate for 15 years given the pollution it was causing and the concerns of the people living in its neighborhood.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill that Congress is considering includes a $3.5 billion investment in EPA’s Superfund program, which is critical for cleaning up sites like Central Metal.

Next, Administrator Regan and I are going to the Port of LA.

The Port is an economic engine for our region, providing jobs and moving the goods that keep our economy going.  But it is also a major source of air and water pollution that harms the health of our neighbors living near the Port.

I am leading the effort in Congress to include investment for zero-emissions technology for ports in the Build Back Better reconciliation bill.

It’s important we pass the President’s entire American Jobs Plan to help clean up sites like Central Metal and the Port.

Thank you, Administrator Regan, for taking an interest in the environmental injustices suffered by the people in our district in Los Angeles County.

Working together, we will implement solutions that create environmental justice – and cleaner, healthier neighborhoods – for everyone.

Now, it is my honor to introduce EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

 

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Nanette Diaz Barragán is proud to represent California’s 44th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Carson, Compton, Florence-Firestone, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, San Pedro, South Gate, Walnut Park, Watts, Willowbrook and Wilmington. She serves as chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Border Security.