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May 27, 2021

Landmark Report from First White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council Should Guide Biden Administration’s Justice40 Implementation and its National Climate Policies

Report presents a comprehensive and consequential set of recommendations to center environmental justice in national policies

Contacts

Siham Zniber, szniber@earthjustice.org

Washington, D.C.

A new landmark report from the first White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) presents a comprehensive and consequential set of recommendations to center environmental justice in national policies, and should guide the implementation of the President Biden’s environmental justice commitments, the co-authors of the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform said today.

The WHEJAC report, submitted to President Biden and the Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory, should help shape forthcoming White House guidance on implementing Biden’s Justice40 commitments and, more broadly, the administration’s whole-of-government approach to develop bold national climate policies that advance environmental justice and help to dismantle historic and systemic racial injustice. 

The co-authors of the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform issued the following statement:

“The White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council has made an important and historic contribution to advancing environmental justice and protecting overburdened communities from dangerous pollution and harm from climate change. Its recommendations provide a roadmap for President Biden to make progress on environmental, racial, and economic justice and to ensure that at least 40% of federal climate and clean energy investments reach frontline communities. 

“White House officials and federal agencies should immediately incorporate these recommendations to guide the implementation of Justice40 and the president’s other environmental justice commitments to address the disproportionate levels of pollution, chronic disinvestment, and lack of access to capital and economic opportunities in Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and low-income communities burdened by systemic racism and discriminatory federal policies. In addition, fair, just, and effective implementation of the Justice40 goal is essential to mobilizing the resources needed to clean up legacy pollution, improve access to pollution-free energy and transportation, and build quality and affordable housing and clean water infrastructure in communities that need it the most. White House officials must also center environmental justice in the development of bold national climate policies.”

The following are additional comments from co-authors and leaders of the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform:

The Honorable Harold Mitchell Jr., ReGenesis Project & WHEJAC Member: “It’s historic that we are able to represent our communities who are on the frontlines of environmental injustices through WHEJAC. This is a critical moment to define bold and equitable climate solutions that address the legacy of systemic racism and environmental injustice while rebuilding the U.S. economy in ways that work for everyone. We must continue to focus on environmental justice in climate policy and ensure it goes beyond WHEJAC: it must be integrated into the development of all national climate policies.”

Richard Moore, Los Jardines Institute & WHEJAC Co-Chair: “The WHEJAC’s recommendations are the product of bringing the expertise and perspectives of environmental justice communities to the table. Communities of color and low-income communities — both urban and rural — have suffered the most from our country’s intersecting health, economic, racial, and climate crises. We must continue to dismantle the systemic racism that perpetuates these crises, and ensure our communities are being heard at the highest levels of government — we hope the Biden administration is listening, and will act on these recommendations.”

Michele Roberts, Environmental Justice Health Alliance & WHEJAC Member: “The voices of the communities that have suffered for too long from legacies of pollution and inequality are finally being heard. Through the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, we finally have the seat at the table that we deserve. We know how to remedy the problems that have been placed in our communities, and our recommendations should form the foundation from which the Biden-Harris administration builds its policies to correct environmental, economic, and climate injustice.” 

Peggy Shepard, WE ACT For Environmental Justice & WHEJAC Co-Chair: “I am proud that our members have demonstrated their commitment and contributed their expertise to ensuring that many of the needs and concerns expressed by frontline/EJ communities over several decades have been articulated boldly and plainly to the Biden administration. The recommendations on Justice40, the Executive Order12898, and the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool are robust, thoughtful and, if implemented, will be a giant step toward achieving some equity in the communities that are overburdened by pollution and lack the investment that could make them healthy and sustainable.”

Dr. Beverly Wright, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice & WHEJAC Member: “The WHEJAC recommendations lay out a roadmap for the federal government to drive meaningful investments in the communities bearing the brunt of pollution and climate disasters — like those along the Gulf Coast choked by toxic industrial pollution and battered by hurricanes. Now the Biden administration must demonstrate its commitment to environmental justice by implementing these recommendations and centering equity and justice across the federal government’s climate agenda.”

John Podesta, Center for American Progress: “The recommendations made by the experts and advocates serving on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC), one of President Biden’s signature initiatives, are essential to the effective implementation of the President’s goal of ensuring that 40% of all climate funding goes to historically marginalized communities. We cannot hope to avert our climate crisis without righting the wrongs of systemic racism. The necessary goals of reducing pollution in overburdened communities while advancing racial justice, environmental justice, and economic justice must be an integral part of this administration’s climate policies.”

Abigail Dillen, Earthjustice: “The Biden administration must live up to its promise to center environmental justice across policymaking. That starts with implementing the WHEJAC recommendations to ensure that climate and clean energy investments benefit frontline communities that have been disproportionately harmed by pollution.”

John Bowman, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council): “The White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council has delivered an historic and comprehensive blueprint for taking bold action to curb climate change that also eases the burden on low-income and communities of color, who bear the brunt of industrial pollution and suffer its cumulative effects over generations. These recommendations would amount to the most meaningful steps ever taken by a president to address America’s systemic racial and environmental injustices.”

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