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New bill could help combat illegal dumping issues in Houston

The bill once signed into law dedicates $60 billion to fight for environmental justice across the country. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee wants millions for Houston.

HOUSTON — Houston neighborhoods are being treated like dumps and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act could help fix the problem.

She's pushing for millions of dollars to be spent in communities like Trinity Gardens.

Her announcement came nearly a month after the Department of Justice announced an investigation into the city of Houston's response to illegal dumping complaints.

"They are saying enough is enough," Jackson Lee said.

On Sunday, Jackson Lee joined community members and residents to tour sites in the historic community of Trinity Gardens. A former K-Mart is now a place where people dump their trash.

A nearby retention pond is dealing with contamination from nearby industries. 

Illegal dumping is pervasive there and in other northeast Houston neighborhoods.

"We have to raise the environmental accountability stick so that persons cannot do this and think they can get away with it," Jackson Lee said.

Jackson Lee said that accountability can be made possible with the help of the Inflation Reduction Act.

"These millions of dollars out of $60 billion and $3 billion can come to Houston and have a metamorphic, a seismic change," Jackson Lee said.

The just-passed bill is the largest climate change legislation in U.S. history and specifically sets aside billions to deal with environmental justice.

"If people are prisoners in their own home because they can't breathe, what have we done to them?" Jackson Lee said.

She said the funds should be used to build an environmental community capacity center in Trinity Gardens to address "environment and public health harms related to pollution and climate change."

"I want to see this being implemented as soon as possible," Jackson Lee said.

While the work to determine where funds will go begins, the DOJ continues its investigation into the city of Houston's response to illegal dumping. The feds are looking into whether the city is guilty of racial discrimination.

"It is in everybody's interest to have communities with clean water, clean air, communities that are thriving where it's not being a dumping ground with toxic stuff to make people sick," Pastor Timothy Daniels Sr. said.

KHOU 11 News asked Jackson Lee about the DOJ investigation into the city of Houston but she said she doesn't comment on ongoing investigations.

She said she believes all levels of government need to work together to help address the problems these communities are facing.

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