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HomeNewsEPA investigates Mississippi's spending before Jackson water crisis

EPA investigates Mississippi’s spending before Jackson water crisis

JACKSON, Miss. — The Environmental Safety Company is investigating whether or not Mississippi officers dealt with federal funds in a means that discriminated in opposition to residents of the state’s predominately Black capital metropolis, which has been roiled by a sequence of ingesting water crises and repair outages lately.

In late September, the NAACP requested the company to look into the state’s spending selections, as Jackson’s leaders pleaded for extra monetary help. The civil rights group alleged that the state’s rollout of federal {dollars} has favored whiter communities, at the same time as Jackson has struggled to adjust to state and federal pointers meant to guard ingesting water high quality.

Thursday’s announcement of the probe means the EPA’s Workplace of Exterior Civil Rights Compliance will look into whether or not two state businesses ran afoul of a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits recipients of federal {dollars} from participating in discriminatory habits, whether or not deliberately or not. The choice to open an investigation doesn’t imply that the EPA has made a willpower of whether or not any wrongdoing occurred. 

NAACP President Derrick Johnson, who lives in Jackson, mentioned in an interview that the town’s ongoing water troubles are “the results of the state ravenous the town of assets over the past a number of a long time.”

“What’s at stake is a chance for the residents to be ensured that the state will likely be held accountable for denying them clear, secure ingesting water,” he mentioned.

A spokesperson for Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves didn’t instantly touch upon the investigation. 

The NAACP’s federal grievance raises issues a couple of mortgage program overseen by the state Division of Well being that distributes federal funding to communities to enhance their water programs. The NAACP argues that Jackson, which it says has obtained funding 3 times over the mortgage program’s 25-year historical past, has been largely shut off from a important useful resource. 

The Mississippi Division of Well being mentioned in a press release that its mission is to guard “the general public well being security of all Mississippians” and that the company “additionally works with all eligible public water programs needing funds to enhance their crops by the State Revolving Mortgage Fund.”

The submitting additionally refers back to the Mississippi Division of Environmental High quality’s position in overseeing a water infrastructure grant program created by the state Legislature that locations Jackson underneath further oversight as a way to entry funds.

The EPA’s investigation comes within the wake of issues from flooding this summer time that left 1000’s of Jackson residents with none operating water for days. 

Environmental justice and civil rights advocates have argued that failed makes an attempt by native officers to safe extra assets from the Legislature to deal with the town’s water system have additional exacerbated Jackson’s infrastructure challenges. 

 Because the Nineteen Eighties, the town has suffered from a dwindling tax base amid inhabitants loss. Issues with water billing and collections have additionally resulted in Jackson lacking out on sorely wanted income that would go towards repairs.

The EPA’s inquiry comes simply days after the launch of a congressional investigation in regards to the metropolis’s water disaster. Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., have requested Reeves to reply a sequence of questions on how the state has spent or plans to spend federal funds that may improve water programs within the state.

The EPA’s Workplace of Inspector Basic, which is an impartial workplace throughout the company, can be reviewing this summer time’s water emergency, which resulted in a federal catastrophe declaration from the White Home.

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