For too long, our government and the fossil fuel and chemical industries have perpetuated systemic racism by disproportionately exposing communities of color, Indigenous communities, and economically disadvantaged communities to the highest levels of toxic air and water pollution. Meanwhile, the same communities often don’t have access to affordable energy, transportation, and housing. Those most targeted by these unjust practices are also on the front lines of more powerful storms and floods, intense heat waves, deadly wildfires, devastating droughts, and other threats from the climate crisis. Now is the time for bold and concrete solutions to rebuild our country in a sustainable and equitable way.
That starts with the Biden administration implementing the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) recommendations to ensure that climate, clean energy, and other infrastructure investments benefit frontline communities who have been disproportionately harmed by pollution.
The Biden administration has made a promise to center environmental justice across policymaking, including its Justice40 commitment to target at least 40% of the benefits from investments in climate and infrastructure to disadvantaged communities. We know that clean, accessible energy and infrastructure as well as sustainable farming and other climate solutions can be engines of health and wealth in every community. We should be targeting those benefits where they are needed most.
The people at the frontlines of climate change must be at the forefront of climate solutions, and the people most impacted by toxic pollution should guide its cleanup.
The White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council consists of environmental justice leaders from across the country. President Biden sought their input and now he has the responsibility to act on it.
These recommendations from the WHEJAC are a roadmap to make President Biden’s promises into real and meaningful investments in communities -- and we must work together to make sure the administration follows course with fair, just, and effective implementation.
We need a whole-of-government approach to develop bold national climate and public health policies that advance environmental justice and help to dismantle historic and systemic racial injustice. It’s time we set our country on a course to correcting persistent environmental and economic injustice – take action today.