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Biden signs executive order making “environmental justice” part of government’s mission

Every agency of the federal government must incorporate “environmental justice” into its mission under an executive order signed by President Joe Biden.

“The executive order will direct agencies to address gaps in science and data to better understand and prevent the cumulative impacts of pollution on people’s health,” a White House official said. “It will create a new Office of Environmental Justice in the White House to coordinate all environmental justice efforts across the federal government. And it will require agencies to notify nearby communities in the event of a release of toxic substances from a federal facility.”

The executive order recognizes that “racism is a fundamental driver of environmental injustice.” It will direct federal agencies to consider and prevent disproportionate impacts of environmental and health harms on poor and minority communities. It also will require agencies to consult with historically excluded communities and “actively facilitate meaningful public participation and just treatment of all people in agency decision-making.”

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The new White House Office of Environmental Justice created by Biden’s action will be led by a federal chief environmental justice officer, who will be tasked with coordinating environmental justice policy across the entire federal government. Additionally, the executive order changes language used in a Clinton-era environmental order that called on the government to address “disproportionately high and adverse” effects of their actions, dropping the word “high” to remove the “potential misunderstanding that agencies should only be considering large disproportionate effects.”

The White House contrasted Biden’s planned action with policies favored by House Republicans and Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., accusing “extreme MAGA Republicans” of being in the pocket of Big Oil.

Republicans have introduced H.R. 1, the Lower Energy Costs Act, wide-ranging legislation that pushes back on Biden’s climate agenda on everything from Biden’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline to restrictions on oil and gas development to proposed bans on gas stoves. The legislation, passed with bipartisan support in the House, would repeal taxes and regulations on oil and gas production and make it easier to develop fossil fuel energy. President Biden has said he would veto the bill.

McCarthy has said the Biden administration “kneecapped American energy production” with “misguided policies” that increase costs on Americans.

–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice

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