Today, President Biden signed the executive order Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All, directly incorporating many recommendations of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. The 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, directs agencies to consider the cumulative health impacts of pollution on communities, and directs agencies to strengthen their direct engagement with impacted communities. The White House also published an Environmental Justice Scorecard and announced new Justice40 covered programs.
The Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform (EJHA) and Coming Clean responded with the following statement:
We applaud the Biden Harris Administration for using its power to further embed Environmental Justice into the work of federal agencies, and track its tangible progress in improving community health with an Environmental Justice Scorecard.
Our networks, led by the priorities of grassroots organizations, have long recognized that systemic racism is a fundamental driver of environmental injustice. It is encouraging to hear the White House recognize this reality today, and make new commitments to engage and protect communities that have been harmed by polluting facilities and intensifying climate change impacts.
In 2018, EJHA and Coming Clean published Life at the Fenceline: Understanding Cumulative Health Hazards in Environmental Justice Communities, which painted a stark picture of the cumulative chemical pollution burdens faced by communities like Houston, TX, Albuquerque, NM, and Louisville, KY. Our research showed that communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately located next to hazardous, polluting facilities, while also facing other health stressors such as higher rates of poverty and lack of access to healthy foods.
In 2021, EJHA Co-Coordinators Michele Roberts and Richard Moore, and affiliate members of EJHA Susana Almanza, Juan Parras and Vi Waghiyi were appointed to the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, where they provided critical recommendations that are reflected in today’s executive order. Environmental justice leaders have been advocating for principled, community-driven solutions for decades.
We have long called for federal agencies to consider and address the cumulative impacts of pollution on communities. We thank the Biden Harris Administration for hearing us, and are committed to helping federal agencies improve their analysis of cumulative impacts, while knowing that we already have sufficient data to take action to protect overburdened communities.
The local communities fighting for environmental justice already know what they need to thrive. We are pleased that the White House reiterated its commitment to involve EJ communities in agency decision-making, and fund community-supported solutions with expanded Justice40 covered programs. We look forward to the thorough implementation of this order by all federal agencies, using a whole-of-government approach to improve life and health for these communities on the ground.
Deidre Nelms; Coming Clean; (802) 251-0203 ext. 711, firstname.lastname@example.org.