EPA investigating MDEQ over investments into Jackson’s water systems

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A probe has been launched by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to investigate whether the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) discriminated against the state’s majority-Black capital city by refusing to fund improvements for the water systems.

This investigation comes three weeks after the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed a Title VI Complaint for Investigation into the state’s “gross mishandling of the water crisis” and three days after Congressmen Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Carolyn Maloney, D-NY., began investigating how Mississippi plans to spend funding from numerous federal grants on the capital city’s failing water infrastructure.

The EPA’s investigation looks to establish whether the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality MDEQ discriminated against Jackson in its funding of water treatment facilities and activities and if the department has policies in place to ensure nondiscrimination, which is required for all recipients of federal assistance, or is planning to implement said policies.

Earlier Thursday, Governor Tate Reeves continued an ongoing feud with Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba by expressing his disapproval with the city’s request for proposal to hire a new water management vendor, which differed from the one proposed by the Unified Command Structure. Reeves also threatened to cut off all state assistance in keeping Jackson’s water stable as a result if Lumumba does not participate in the selection process alongside federal and state water experts.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson praised the EPA’s decision to open an investigation into Mississippi agencies. He also accused the state of having a pattern and practice of discriminating against Jackson when it comes to providing federal funds to improve local water systems

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