Some research has already shown that COVID-19 outcomes are worse in individuals living in areas with high levels of air pollution. ARP would spend $50 million on additional research and monitoring regarding the link between air pollution and public health outcome disparities of COVID-19. Specifically, the $50 million could be used on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs such as a “research and development program for prevention and control of air pollution” and “air pollutant monitoring, analysis, modeling, and inventory research.”
However, the provision (Section 3301) would spend another $50 million on a broader range of potential pollution links to worse COVID-19 outcomes in addition to air pollution, including water pollution and brownfield site pollution (which may include hazardous substances or other contaminants). A previous version of the bill would have funded solid waste disposal and toxic substances as well.
While the intent of the section is “to address health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID-19 pandemic,” the language is broad enough that funding could be directed toward unrelated programs and research. This would violate TCS’s principle that COVID-19 disaster response and recovery spending only be targeted at programs that help alleviate the current pandemic (and in due course). As an example, Section 3301 could fund the sharing of information with other countries about air pollution technologies, something that is not targeted at an emergency response to the current pandemic.