ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Local environmentalist are pushing for stronger regulations when the Biden administration enters office late next week. Some activists argue that rollbacks have adversely impacted low-income communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and a lot of others have a lot of catching up to do, but fundamentally people want their kids to grow up in a clean and healthy environment,” said former regional EPA Administrator Judith Enck.
“Here in the Capital District we have felt the effects of the Trump environmental rollback, which is hopefully about to change, Enck said.
PFOA contamination and development of new fossil fuel infrastructure are some of the top issues she said are important for everyone living in the Capital District, especially during the pandemic.
“Low income communities and communities of color suffer a much greater pollution burden than more affluent communities,” Enck said.
Emerging research from Harvard University links polluted air to worsened effects from COVID-19. Enck and environmentalist Liz Moran said something like the proposed National Grid pipeline in Rensselaer County would only exacerbate the issue, increasing gas production.
“Take for example the South End of Albany where there are a number of trucks that come through that can lead to higher particulate matter,” Moran said.
Moran said air pollution in the South End from the Port of Albany and traffic from the highway exposes residents to higher chances of heart attacks, strokes and other health problems.
“The communities that are most adversely impacted by climate change are also the communities being most adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Moran said.
Protecting the environment and protecting residents’ health is something Enck hopes will bring people together during a highly polarized time.
“I do not believe protecting the environment is a partisan issue. I believe it has to be bi-partisan, tri-partisan,” Enck said.