YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A top official with the U.S. EPA has written a letter to his counterpart with the Ohio EPA, requesting further investigations into “potential environmental justice concerns” before granting a permit to SOBE to operate a plant that would generate synthetic gas with tire chips.

The letter was sent by John Mooney, director of Air and Radiation for the U.S. EPA Region 5, to Robert Hodanbosi, chief of Air Pollution Control for the Ohio EPA.

Mooney’s letter states that the neighborhoods around the plant — just north of downtown Youngstown — are home to a majority of people of color and those with with low income.

These neighborhoods, writes Mooney, have some of the highest levels in Ohio for many environmental justice indexes — including cancer risks, hazardous waste proximity and wastewater discharge.

Mooney recommends the Ohio EPA conduct a more thorough environmental justice analysis as part of the permitting decision.

The full letter can be read below: