Biden to Boost Environmental Justice Efforts with New Executive Order

Biden to Boost Environmental Justice Efforts with New Executive Order

President Joe Biden is set to sign an executive order aimed at directing federal agencies to invest in communities disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate change, according to the White House. This executive order will establish a new Office of Environmental Justice within the White House, responsible for coordinating environmental justice efforts across federal agencies. Additionally, agencies will be required to inform nearby communities when toxic substances are released from federal facilities.
The President is expected to announce this development during a ceremony at the White House Rose Garden as he prepares to launch his reelection campaign next week. During the event, Biden is also anticipated to criticize Republicans for protecting the interests of large oil companies and advocating for policies that make it easier for such companies to pollute the air.

Biden will contrast his administration’s historic commitment to environmental justice and climate action with the “dangerous vision” that Speaker McCarthy and his extreme caucus have for the planet, the economy, and public health, according to a White House official. In response, Republican lawmakers have called for weaker regulations on oil production to reduce energy costs. Earlier this week, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy proposed raising the debt limit for one year and reducing federal spending, which includes repealing electric vehicle and clean energy tax incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act.

During the early days of his presidency, Biden committed to making environmental justice a central aspect of his climate agenda, initiating the Justice40 Initiative through an executive order. This initiative mandates that agencies provide at least 40% of investment benefits to overburdened communities. Studies published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters show that communities of color in the US face higher levels of air pollution due to federal housing discrimination. The Clean Air Task Force has also found that Black Americans are 75% more likely than white Americans to reside near hazardous waste-producing facilities and are three times more likely to die from exposure to air pollutants.

The White House issued a statement acknowledging that communities with environmental justice concerns have long suffered from persistent environmental injustice, underinvestment in infrastructure, and critical services due to a legacy of racial discrimination, including redlining. Climate change further exacerbates these burdens.

Beverly Wright, founder and executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, praised Biden’s executive order as historic but emphasized the need for continued efforts to achieve true environmental justice. In September, the Biden administration established the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights, which oversees a $3 billion climate and environmental justice block grant program created by the Inflation Reduction Act, allocating $60 billion for environmental justice initiatives.


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