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EPA Environmental Justice Director Hosts Public Meeting In Peoria

Dana Vollmer
Peoria Public Radio
Matthew Tejada (center) is the regional director of environmental justice for the U.S. EPA.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regional director of environmental justice met with community members at Mount Zion Baptist Church last night, after touring pollution sites through out Peoria.

Matthew Tejada fielded questions about why low-income minority communities have the worst air quality, who should bear the burden of paying for coal ash clean up and how to get segregated communities to work together to improve environmental conditions.

Tejada told participants he can't make policy decisions for the EPA -- he can only pass along what he hears from residents of towns like Peoria.

"The only thing that makes a difference is when you all show up and speak up," he said. "You have to keep doing it -- even when you get tired, even when you've done it a dozen times this year, even when somebody new gets hired somewhere else and the have to get educated all over again."

Tejada's visit came after members of Illinois People's Action hand-delivered a letter to the EPA in Washington D.C earlier this year.

Tejada declined to take additional questions from the media.

This story will be updated.

Dana Vollmer is a reporter with WGLT. Dana previously covered the state Capitol for NPR Illinois and Peoria for WCBU.