Individuals whose neighborhoods have been suffering from air pollution for many years heard welcome information yesterday: the Biden administration introduced a brand new authorities workplace only for them.
The Division of Justice, or DOJ, is launching its first-ever Workplace of Environmental Justice, which is able to coordinate with different federal businesses to deliver circumstances in opposition to polluters, prioritizing the communities most affected by environmental harms.
Lawyer Basic Merrick Garland and Environmental Safety Company, or EPA, Administrator Michael Regan additionally revealed a brand new environmental justice strategy and introduced that the DOJ will likely be reinstating an enforcement instrument the earlier administration had banned.
“Though violations of our environmental legal guidelines can occur wherever, communities of shade, Indigenous communities, and low-income communities typically bear the brunt of the hurt attributable to environmental crime, air pollution, and local weather change,” Garland stated at a press conference.
The brand new environmental justice technique commits the DOJ to addressing these issues by “vigorously and transparently working to safe environmental justice with the complete set of authorized instruments at its disposal, in partnership with EPA and different federal businesses, and in communication with the communities most affected by the underlying violations of federal legislation.”
The Workplace of Environmental Justice will likely be led by Cynthia Ferguson, an legal professional within the division’s Environmental and Pure Sources Division. Ferguson has labored on circumstances associated to environmental justice for greater than 20 years, Garland stated.
In his remarks, Regan highlighted the return of supplemental environmental tasks as an enforcement mechanism. These tasks permit polluters to fund native initiatives as a part of settlements for breaking environmental legal guidelines. For instance, as a part of a settlement for violations of the Clear Air Act, an organization might agree to put in air filtration methods in native faculties. Regan stated they have been “a instrument to safe tangible public well being advantages for communities harmed by environmental violations.”
Environmental justice advocates welcomed the bulletins from each the DOJ and EPA. In a press release, Jane English, the NAACP’s environmental and local weather justice program supervisor, wrote: “As local weather change worsens, it’s crucial that our leaders produce actual, tangible options to guard Black and frontline communities and proper present and previous harms, all whereas initiating direct legislation enforcement corrective responses to egregious harms and environmental injustices.”