March 1, 2024

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FACT SHEET: President Biden Signs Executive Order to Revitalize Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All

FACT SHEET: President Biden Signs Executive Order to Revitalize Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All
FACT SHEET: President Biden Signs Executive Order to Revitalize Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All

President Biden and Vice President Harris believe that every person has a right to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live in a healthy community – now and into the future. During his first week in office, President Biden launched the most ambitious environmental justice agenda in our nation’s history. To continue delivering on […]

The post FACT SHEET: President Biden Signs Executive Order to Revitalize Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All first appeared on Social Gov.

President Biden and Vice President Harris believe that every person has a right to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live in a healthy community – now and into the future. During his first week in office, President Biden launched the most ambitious environmental justice agenda in our nation’s history. To continue delivering on that vision, today the President will sign an executive order further embedding environmental justice into the work of federal agencies to achieve real, measurable progress that communities can count on.

The Executive Order is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government effort to confront longstanding environmental injustices and inequities. For far too long, communities across our country have faced persistent environmental injustice through toxic pollution, underinvestment in infrastructure and critical services, and other disproportionate environmental harms often due to a legacy of racial discrimination including redlining. These communities with environmental justice concerns face even greater burdens due to climate change.

With this action, the President is working to ensure that all people – regardless of race, background, income, ability, Tribal affiliation, or zip code – can benefit from the vital safeguards enshrined in our nation’s foundational environmental and civil rights laws. That means cleaner air and water, reduced risk for asthma, cancer, and other health burdens, and better access to green space, safe and affordable housing, and clean transportation.

For President Biden, protecting our planet starts with ensuring everyone lives in a safe and healthy environment. Throughout Earth Week, President Biden, Vice President Harris, and other Cabinet-level officials are 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.

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. The new Executive Order makes clear that the pursuit of environmental justice is a duty of all executive branch agencies and should be incorporated into their missions. It also affirms that environmental justice is central to the implementation of our bedrock civil rights and environmental laws.
  • Better protect overburdened communities from pollution and environmental harms. The Executive Order directs agencies to consider measures to address and prevent disproportionate and adverse environmental and health impacts on communities, including the cumulative impacts of pollution and other burdens like climate change. Additionally, it requires agencies to notify nearby communities in the event of a release of toxic substances from a federal facility, and to hold a public meeting to share information on resulting health risks and necessary precautions.
  • Strengthen engagement with communities and mobilize federal agencies to confront existing and legacy barriers and injustices. Communities with environmental justice concerns have long experienced exclusion and other significant barriers to having a voice in federal decision-making. The Executive Order recognizes this reality and that racism is a fundamental driver of environmental injustice. It directs agencies to actively facilitate meaningful public participation and just treatment of all people in agency decision-making. The Executive Order also underscores the vital importance of Tribal consultation and coordination, including to strengthen nation-to-nation relationships on issues involving environmental justice.
  • Promote the latest science, data, and research, including on cumulative impacts. The Executive Order directs agencies to identify and address gaps in science, data, and research related to environmental justice, to advance the analysis of cumulative impacts, and to make information on environmental and health concerns more publicly accessible to communities. To address the need for a coordinated strategy for identifying and filling environmental justice data and research gaps, the Executive Order establishes a new Environmental Justice Subcommittee within the National Science and Technology Council, led by the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
  • Expand interagency coordination and launch a new Office of Environmental Justice within the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Building on Executive Order 14008, the Executive Order adds agencies to the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council to further a whole-of-government strategy to address current and historic environmental injustice. The Executive Order also establishes the White House Office of Environmental Justice, led by the Federal Chief Environmental Justice Officer, and tasks it with coordinating the implementation of environmental justice policy across the federal government, ensuring that federal efforts can evolve alongside our understanding of environmental justice.
  • Increase accountability and transparency in federal environmental justice policy. The Executive Order charges federal agencies with conducting new assessments of their environmental justice efforts and developing, implementing, and periodically updating an environmental justice strategic plan. These Environmental Justice Strategic Plans and Assessments will be submitted to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and made public on a regular basis, including through the Environmental Justice Scorecard, a new government-wide assessment of federal agencies’ efforts to advance environmental justice.
  • Honor and build on the foundation of ongoing environmental justice work. Under the Executive Order, agencies will continue their efforts to advance environmental justice in ways that complement and deepen prior work. The Executive Order uses the term “disproportionate and adverse” as a simpler, modernized version of the phrase “disproportionately high and adverse” used in Executive Order 12898. Those phrases have the same meaning, but removing the word “high” eliminates potential misunderstanding that agencies should only be considering large disproportionate effects.

This action follows through on President Biden’s promise to modernize and improve how the federal government confronts environmental injustice to address the needs of present and future generations – a promise he made following meaningful engagement with communities with environmental justice concerns and solidified in Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. The Executive Order reflects the values, goals, and recommendations of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC), an expert body of leaders, researchers, practitioners, and community members. In line with the WHEJAC’s recommendations, the Executive Order outlines an ambitious approach to environmental justice that is informed by scientific research, high-quality data, and meaningful engagement with communities. It also reaffirms that the federal government must continue to be transparent and accountable for its actions.

The Executive Order builds on and supplements the foundational efforts of Executive Order 12898, signed by President Bill Clinton nearly 30 years ago. For the first time in our nation’s history, Executive Order 12898 recognized and sought to address what community members and leaders had been saying for decades: harmful pollution disproportionally impacts low-income communities and communities of color, among other vulnerable communities.

In addition to the Executive Order, today the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing other new steps to further the President’s historic commitment to environmental justice:

  • Publishing the first-ever Environmental Justice Scorecard. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), CEQ, and the U.S. Digital Service are publishing Phase One of the Environmental Justice Scorecard, the first government-wide assessment of federal agencies’ efforts to advance environmental justice. 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. Over time, it will show how the Administration’s actions are making meaningful changes in communities. The Scorecard incorporates recommendations from the WHEJAC and feedback from the public, environmental justice stakeholders, and experts.
  • Launching the White House Campaign for Environmental Justice. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring that people are seeing and experiencing the impacts of the President’s environmental justice agenda in their communities. To strengthen partnerships with communities that have been left behind for too long, the Administration is announcing the White House Campaign for Environmental Justice. The campaign, which is being kicked off today at the launch of the 21st Urban Waters Federal Partnership in Raleigh, North Carolina, will redouble the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to meet people where they are and better focus agency resources and attention on the needs of marginalized and overburdened communities.
  • Announcing new Justice40 covered programs. Through the Justice40 Initiative, the Biden-Harris Administration is reshaping hundreds of federal programs to ensure that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities. Today three additional agencies, the Department of Commerce, the National Science Foundation, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), announced their Justice40 covered programs. Now nearly 470 programs across nineteen federal agencies are covered under the President’s Justice40 Initiative.
  • Taking new steps to combat plastic pollution in communities. The Biden-Harris Administration recognizes that the plastic pollution crisis is an environmental justice issue, with disadvantaged communities in the U.S. and globally bearing social, economic, and public health burdens across the entire lifecycle of plastics. Today the Environmental Protection Agency is releasing a draft National Strategy on Preventing Plastic Pollution to combat the disparate impacts on communities affected by plastic from production to waste. The White House is also announcing a new Interagency Policy Committee (IPC) on Plastic Pollution and a Circular Economy. The IPC will coordinate federal efforts on plastic pollution, prioritizing public health, economic development, and equity to ensure that the benefits of acting on plastic pollution – including jobs, minimized exposure to harmful chemicals, and clean communities – are available to all.

Today’s announcements build on more than two years of progress under President Biden’s leadership to advance environmental justice. That progress includes:

For more on the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to advance environmental justice, visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/environmentaljustice/.

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Official news published at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/04/21/fact-sheet-president-biden-signs-executive-order-to-revitalize-our-nations-commitment-to-environmental-justice-for-all/

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