President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion Covid relief package includes a downpayment on his ambitious climate plan, including $100 million to address harmful air quality and environmental health risks in minority and low-income communities.

The provisions begin to make good on Biden’s pledge to address environmental injustice as an integral part of his drive to put the nation on track to net zero carbon emissions by mid-century. And they constitute the U.S. government’s first response to the growing scientific evidence—at least 17 peer-reviewed studies so far—showing that areas with high levels of air pollution have higher coronavirus death rates or more severe outbreaks. Some studies were able to trace the higher mortality specifically to fossil fuel pollution.

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