For more than a year, the Environmental Protection Agency investigated whether Louisiana officials discriminated against Black residents by putting them at increased cancer risk. Federal officials said they had found evidence of discrimination and were pressuring the state to strengthen oversight of air pollution from industrial plants.

Now, a draft agreement obtained by The Associated Press shows that Louisiana health officials were open to stronger oversight, including looking at how new industrial plants could harm Black residents.

But the federal government dropped its investigation in June before it got any firm commitments from Louisiana. Advocates said it was a missed opportunity to improve the lives of people who live near refineries and chemical plants in an industrial stretch of the state commonly called “Cancer Alley.”

Experts say the Biden administration, fac

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