LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday his agency intends to secure $3 billion from the $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act to fund “environmental justice” programs for minority communities.

At a community gathering of about 70 people at the Doolittle Community Center, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan and Democratic U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford drummed up support for the legislation, which Horsford said he would vote for when he returns to Washington, D.C. They also talked about controls on the price of prescription drugs. If it passes, the act will allow Medicare to directly negotiate the price of some prescription drugs.

Regan said the legislation would help households save $500 or more every year because of cheaper ways of generating energy.

U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, from left, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, and Cinthia Moore of the Nevada Environmental Justice Coalition. (Greg Haas / 8NewsNow)

The help for household budgets included in the act is a big selling point, but the meat of the legislation is about clean energy — $370 billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which has been an emphasis in the climate change initiatives of President Joe Biden’s administration.

Regan, Horsford, U.S. Rep. Susie Lee and other regional EPA officials were scheduled to appear later in the day at Lake Mead.

“Environmental justice” — programs to do more for low-income and minority communities that might not be able to afford to do the same things as richer neighborhoods — was a major theme of Regan’s remarks.

“This is the first time in this country’s history that we have begun to acknowledge that because of your race, your income, your ZIP code, that you have been unfairly treated — disproportionately impacted by pollution, which has a cascading effect and impact on how our children learn, how they breathe, how they live, where they play,” Regan said. “We’re talking about pumping billions of dollars into our communities to begin to revive and uplift them in a way that should have been done the entire time.”

A recent $300,000 grant announced for the east valley is one such program, designed to provide better air quality monitoring.

Among the nearly 70 residents who attended the Las Vegas meeting Thursday morning, some had questions about environmental issues that ranged beyond climate change. One man said more needs to be done to communicate dangerous levels of air pollution that are happening more often. A woman asked about all the trash in neighborhoods, a problem she has noticed more in valley washes during recent monsoon rains. But many of the questions came back to the effects of the 22-year drought on Las Vegas and the entire Southwest.

A translator assists as a woman in the audience asks a question Thursday morning. (Greg Haas / 8NewsNow)

A woman asked what could be done about water use at hotels. Another asked for support for her program to plant trees. And after the meeting, residents who were new to Las Vegas asked how the continuing explosion of growth can possibly continue. A woman said there needs to be balance as new housing developments spring up around the valley.

Talk about removing grass at parks in favor of desert landscaping drew criticism. “Who goes to the park to play on rocks?”