Legislation introduced Thursday would create an interagency task force to tackle environmental racism by mapping and tracking a number of factors that harm public health in segregated communities,  including lead pollution, air pollution, food deserts, and police killings. “Environmental justice is racial justice,” Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), the bill’s House sponsor, told reporters during a virtual press conference. Bush was joined by Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who introduced a concurrent bill in the Senate.

The legislation would also establish a nationwide database of research on racial and environmental inequities to compile studies like one conducted in 2019 that found Black children in St. Louis were about 10 times more likely to visit an emergency room for asthma than white children, and 2.4 times more likely to have lead in their blood.

“That tool is going to be essential to direct at least 40% of the funding for a clean and climate safe future into communities facing environmental injustices,” Markey said, referring to President Biden’s pledge to direct 40% of environmental funding to poor communities and communities of color. “That which gets measured gets done,” Bush said. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis Public Radio, WBZ News Radio 1030, Phelps County Focus)