A minuscule new HHS office has a mammoth goal: tackling environmental justice

HHS’ new environmental justice office has a mammoth charge. But with no money and a staff of just two, can it accomplish anything?

WASHINGTON — Ask 10 people how a federal health care agency might tackle “environmental justice,” and you’ll get 10 answers.

For Jackson, Miss., residents, it is ensuring potable water after weeks of risk from a damaged sanitation system. For people in “asthma alley,” northern New York City’s communities astride major highways, it is slowing the flow of emissions-related respiratory problems, even as new laws could divert more traffic their way. Angelenos, meanwhile, want to see repercussions for nearby factories that spout metal pollutants into the air.

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