On April 21, 2023, President Biden released a new Executive Order, “Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All”. Along with this release, he delivered remarks at a ceremony Friday afternoon on Building Healthy Communities and Advancing Environmental Justice which featured Catherine Coleman Flowers, founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice. You can watch his remarks here.
According to the White House factsheet, the new Executive Order, Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All, will:
- Deepen the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government commitment to environmental justice.
- Better protect overburdened communities from pollution and environmental harms.
- Strengthen engagement with communities and mobilize federal agencies to confront existing and legacy barriers and injustices.
- Promote the latest science, data, and research, including on cumulative impacts.
- Honor and build on the foundation of ongoing environmental justice work.
Two key things to highlight within this work are how the new directive makes it the mission of every federal agency to protect the environmental health of communities across the U.S. are:
- Increase accountability and transparency in federal environmental justice policy. Federal agencies are to assess their environmental justice efforts into an environmental justice strategic plan. These plans and assessments are to be submitted to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and made public through the Environmental Justice Scorecard. The first version of the Scorecard establishes a baseline for tracking the federal government’s efforts through 24 agencies to secure environmental justice, including to advance the Justice40 Initiative.
- Expand interagency coordination and launch a new Office of Environmental Justice within the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Biden also further created the new Office of Environmental Justice within the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which coordinates environmental policies across the executive branch.
Climate justice leaders applauded President Biden’s Executive Order expanding focus on environmental justice in federal agency planning, a result, they say, of years of organizing by the environmental justice movement.
“Today’s executive order is the result of nearly two decades of organizing by the environmental justice movement. From the original Environmental Justice Executive Order declared under President Clinton in 1994, we have come a long way thanks to frontline organizing power! This win belongs to our communities who have been on the frontlines of the climate crisis, creating solutions, building local power, and engaging lawmakers for decades”. – Ozawa Bineshi Albert, Co-Executive Director at the Climate Justice Alliance
Throughout Earth Week, the Biden Administration is holding events and announcing commitments focused on how the President’s Investing in America agenda is “creating good-paying clean energy jobs, lowering costs, meeting our climate goals, advancing environmental justice and conservation, and strengthening communities that for too long were left behind or left out”.