Call for an Ocean Justice Strategy


Supporters spoke up in this action

Delivery to Council on Environmental Quality

Action ended on July 24, 2023

What Happens Next

Thank you to all who took action! We’re grateful for your support.

What Was At Stake

As we work to address the climate and biodiversity crises, it is imperative that we put justice and equity at the heart of our solutions, including for the ocean. Black, Indigenous, and people of color along the coasts have been disproportionally impacted by rising sea levels, intensifying storms, and the planet-killing oil and gas industry. Seaside communities battle pollution, industrial fishing, habitat loss, and development that’s wiping long-time neighborhoods and traditions off the map. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Change is badly needed. Earthjustice is among 18 environmental justice, community, Indigenous, and national ocean conservation organizations that joined together to create the Ocean Justice Forum and develop the Equitable and Just Ocean Policy Platform. The Platform lays the groundwork for addressing these issues head-on.

This advocacy is already bearing fruit: the Biden administration launched a comment period to collect input on a national Ocean Justice Strategy. We need your help to make ensure the Biden administration creates an ambitious an actionable plan that meets the moment.

For too long, politicians and extractive industries have used the ocean and communities that rely on it as a bargaining chip. Most notably, the Inflation Reduction Act made historic investments to fight the climate crisis, but came at the cost of allowing even more drilling and more pollution in the historically marginalized communities of the Gulf of Mexico and Alaskan coasts.

Even without the new challenges from the Inflation Reduction Act, the status quo was already unacceptable. The hurricane-prone Gulf of Mexico coast is riddled with chemical plants, including roughly half of the nation’s oil and gas refineries. Inequitable government decisions have situated these polluting facilities in low-income areas. The Union of Concerned Scientists found that those burdens fall most heavily on people of color: Latinx and Black households are, respectively, 60% and 75% more likely to have chemical facilities nearby than the nation as a whole.

Extractive industries want us to accept that the ocean and communities on the ocean are dumping grounds for their pollution, but that’s not up to them — it’s up to us. Tell the Biden administration it’s time to chart a new course with an ambitious Ocean Justice Strategy.

An oceanic whitetip shark, Carcharhinus longimanus, swims in the waters off Hawaii.
An oceanic whitetip shark, Carcharhinus longimanus, swims in the waters off Hawaii. (Kaikea Nakachi)

Your Actions Matter

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

You level the playing field.

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

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.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. 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. Read more.

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. Read more.

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 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.