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Biden: Follow through on your environmental justice commitments

Delivery to Biden administration

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What’s At Stake

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.

Teenagers play basketball in the Carver Terrace housing project in 2013 in Port Arthur, Tex.
Eric Kayne for Earthjustice

Teenagers play basketball in the Carver Terrace housing project in 2013 in Port Arthur, Tex.

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.