McEachin Introduces Legislation to Bolster EPA's Ability to Monitor Air Quality

Press Release

Date: July 27, 2022
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Environment

Today, Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) introduced the Technology Assessment for Air Quality Management Act, to authorize $55 million for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to expand its online air quality toolbox and improve its monitoring capabilities.

According to the American Lung Association, more than four in ten Americans live in areas with polluted air. Furthermore, people of color are disproportionately impacted by air pollution and 61% more likely to live in areas with unhealthy air quality.

"Every American deserves the right to breathe clean air, but far too many live in areas with high levels of air pollution," said Rep. McEachin (VA-04). "As we fight to safeguard that right, we must ensure we have the most robust and effective methods to monitor and manage air pollution. I am proud to introduce the Technology Assessment for Air Quality Management Act to take another step in advancing environmental justice and protecting the health of vulnerable Americans."

"You can't manage what you don't measure. Accurate monitoring of air pollution is essential for protecting Americans' public health, especially for frontline environmental justice communities," said Senator Markey, Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate and Nuclear Safety. "This legislation would ensure that the government is using all the best modern air monitoring technologies to create an adaptable and equitable framework for measuring air quality, so that all Americans can breathe fresh air--no matter where they live."

The Technology Assessment for Air Quality Management Act would allow the EPA to:

Annually update and expand its online air quality toolbox with best-available monitor technologies, methods, and associated uses of data
Connect the toolbox with environmental justice mapping and screening tools
Establish a working group consisting of representatives from EPA regional offices, air agencies, environmental justice networks, data science, and public health science to develop templates for integrated monitoring systems
Direct the EPA and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct an inventory of the locations and operation statuses of air monitors, existing data infrastructure, high-priority areas for monitoring deployment in environmental justice communities, and workforce needs to improve air quality management across scales

Sarah Vogel, Senior Vice President, Healthy Communities at Environmental Defense Fund, said: "Air quality monitoring technologies that reveal community-level insights are critical to inform our understanding of the sources and local health impacts of air pollution--which negatively impact millions of people in this country every day. Low-income communities and communities of color bear the brunt of harmful air pollution, and the ability to integrate high quality air pollution data into decision-making is crucial. We thank Representative McEachin for introducing the "Technology Assessment for Air Quality Management Act,' which would provide communities and governments across the country with the tools to better understand local air pollution sources and protect the health of residents."

"I thank Congressman McEachin for leading the "Technology Assessment for Air Quality Management Act' in the House and for his continued leadership on addressing air pollution and equity," said American Lung Association President & CEO, Harold Wimmer. "Accurately monitoring air quality is a key component in protecting public health, and it is especially important to prioritize monitoring in the communities that have been left behind in the pursuit for healthy air. Exploring ways to expand air quality monitoring and ensuring that data is efficiently shared with local communities is necessary to ensure clean air for all."

"Clean Air Task Force supports the Technology Assessment for Air Quality Management Act of 2022. This legislation would help build the toolkit for communities eager to improve their understanding of exposure risks due to air pollution," said Dr. John Graham, Senior Scientist of the Clean Air Task Force. "Recent expansion of low-cost sensor networks have provided real-time, local data for communities to track changes in neighborhood pollution levels. The funds for this technology assessment will facilitate the use of new data sources to support efforts to reduce air pollution and protect human health and the environment."

The Technology Assessment for Air Quality Management Act is endorsed by Environmental Defense Fund, American Lung Association, American Thoracic Society, Clean Air Task Force, Moms Clean Air Force, and Dr. Sacoby Wilson, Director of the Center for Community Engagement, Environmental Justice, and Health.

This bill is cosponsored by Reps. Nanette Barragán, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Kathy Castor, Yvette Clarke, Raúl Grijalva, and Pramila Jayapal.

The Senate companion bill is led by Sen. Edward Markey and cosponsored by Sens. Tina Smith, Tammy Duckworth, Richard Durbin, Richard Blumenthal, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennet, Bernie Sanders, Chris Van Hollen, Sheldon Whitehouse, Patty Murray, and Cory Booker.