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Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that it is launching an environmental justice investigation into whether Alabama’s state and local health departments discriminated against Black residents.

Why it matters: The investigation will examine whether the departments' policies have caused Black residents in Lowndes, Alabama, to "have diminished access to adequate sanitation systems."

  • It also marks the DOJ's first Title VI environmental justice investigation for one of the department's funding recipients.
  • Title VI prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discriminating based on race, color or national origin, according to the DOJ.

What they're saying: "Sanitation is a basic human need," assistant attorney general Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, which is conducting the investigation, said in a statement.

  • "[N]o one in the United States should be exposed to risk of illness and other serious harm because of inadequate access to safe and effective sewage management," she added.
  • "We will conduct a fair and thorough investigation of these environmental justice concerns and their impact on the health, life, and safety of people across Lowndes County, Alabama."  

The Alabama Department of Public Health did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment but told AP that it is "committed to cooperating with the investigating agencies to have this matter resolved as quickly as possible."

  • The Lowndes County Health Department did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper

Broadway actor accused of joining Oath keepers in Capitol breach

Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

A Broadway actor was charged Tuesday for allegedly joining the Oath Keepers in breaching the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to a Department of Justice statement.

Why it matters: The arrest of James Beeks, who's currently playing Judas in a traveling "Jesus Christ Superstar" production under the stage name James T. Justis and is also a Michael Jackson impersonator, adds "an odd twist in [a] sprawling case" against the far-right group, per Politico, which first reported the news.

GOP courts anti-vaxxers with jobless aid

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Republican officials around the country are testing a creative mechanism to build loyalty with unvaccinated Americans while undermining Biden administration mandates: unemployment benefits.

Driving the news: Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee have changed their unemployment insurance rules to allow workers who are fired or quit over vaccine mandates to receive benefits.

Storms pummel flood-hit Pacific Northwest as border river overflows

An image of the water-logged Sumas Prairie area taken last Friday. Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Twitter.

The latest ferocious storm system to hit the Pacific Northwest triggered fresh evacuation orders and at least one mudslide in flood-ravaged British Columbia, Canada, late Sunday.

Threat level: Flood sirens sounded in Washington state as the Nooksack River overflowed. Henry Braun, mayor of Abbotsford, B.C., told reporters the water flow was headed toward the Canadian border city later Sunday. "There's nothing to stop it," he said.