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May 26, 2022

The Equitable and Just National Climate Platform Commends the Council on Environmental Quality’s Justice40 Week of Action

Achieving the Justice40 goal would set us on a long overdue course to correcting injustice

Contacts

Alexandria Trimble, atrimble@earthjustice.org

Washington, D.C.

The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has designated this week as Justice40 Week of Action, which includes the release of a new report to Congress offering a formal response to the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC)’s recommendations on Justice40, the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST), and Executive Order 12898 on federal actions to advance environmental justice. In addition, CEQ launched an environmental justice website and series of stakeholder engagement meetings to share vital information on the Justice40 Initiative with communities and other stakeholders.

The Equitable and Just National Climate Platform (EJNCP) members, a coalition of environmental justice and national environmental groups, released the following Justice40 critical next steps and statement:

“The White House has made important progress advancing the president’s historic Justice40 Initiative and goal to deliver at least 40% of federal climate and infrastructure investment benefits to disadvantaged communities. Achieving the Justice40 goal would set the country on a long overdue course to correcting persistent injustice by mobilizing substantial new investments in legacy pollution cleanup, pollution-free energy and transportation, workforce development, quality affordable housing, and critical clean water infrastructure in communities that need it the most. There is still much work to be done to ensure that the federal government effectively invests in communities historically left behind, including action from Congress to pass the stalled budget reconciliation bill with crucial investments to advance environmental justice priorities.

“Congress must act now to secure substantial, long-overdue and much-needed climate and environmental justice investments through budget reconciliation legislation. The Senate must urgently pass a comprehensive package of investments to address the climate crisis and environmental injustice. This package must support environmental and climate justice block grants and other programs to clean up pollution and create toxic-free communities, healthy ports, and climate-resilient communities and infrastructure.

“The administration must also advance strong policies and regulations to reduce pollution. This includes developing and implementing a strong cumulative impacts policy and a regulatory strategy with an intentional focus on pollution reduction in low-income and Tribal communities, and in communities of color to improve public health and create economic opportunities in disadvantaged communities that have been historically marginalized and impacted by high levels of toxic air and water pollution.

“We welcome CEQ’s Justice40 Week of Action to elevate and advance these important priorities, and engage with communities. A new series of Justice40 briefings, a new environmental justice website and a report responding to the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council’s recommendations on implementing Justice40 and strengthening federal actions to protect the environment and public health for all communities are important ways to keep communities aware and involved. Now is the time for the administration to double-down on its whole-of-government approach, in direct engagement with communities, to ensure the promise of the Justice40 Initiative is fully achieved in communities across the country.

“Intentional community outreach is essential to ensuring effective Justice40 implementation. We look forward to continued work from CEQ to ensure the website is updated to meet the real-time needs of our communities. CEQ’s Justice40 briefings will also provide a way for communities around the country to engage in the Justice40 process alongside other stakeholders. Integrating community feedback on Justice40 programs and the CEJST must be an essential part of moving this initiative forward in an inclusive way. All agencies must be held accountable for delivering on this mandate. EJNCP members looks forward to continuing our work with CEQ to support the historic Justice40 Initiative.”

Recent Justice40 implementation progress and needed next steps:

Justice40 Implementation Progress

  1. More than $29 billion in new funding rolled out to deliver on the Justice40 Initiative
  2. New Council on Environment Quality (CEQ) report on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC)’s recommendations on Justice40, the CEJST, and Executive Order 12898
  3. Launch of a centralized website for federal environmental justice programs and actions
  4. Launch of the beta Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) to identify disadvantaged communities eligible for Justice40 funding and benefits
  5. WHEJAC recommendations to CEQ on the Environmental Justice Scorecard
  6. Agencies identify hundreds of Justice40-eligible federal programs
  7. Launch of Justice40 “best practices” pilot with 21 agency programs
  8. Release of interim Justice40 implementation guidance for federal agencies by the CEQ, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and National Climate Advisor’s Office

Funding Examples

  1. $12.6 billion for clean water, including $3.2 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, $6.4 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, and $3 billion to replace lead service lines (December 2021, May 13, 2022)
  2. $500 million to begin replacing the nation’s fleet of school buses with clean zero-emission buses (May 20, 2022)
  3. $254.5 million in Brownfields grants to 265 communities, 86% which have proposed projects in historically underserved areas (May 12, 2022)
  4. $3 billion in Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) formula funding to weatherize homes and reduce energy costs (March 2022)
  5. $1.47 billion for the Bus and Bus Facilities and Low or No Emission grant programs to reduce diesel emissions in disadvantaged communities (March 2022)
  6. $1.5 billion in grant funding through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program (January 28, 2022)
  7. $1 billion to clean up hazardous Superfund sites, with approximately 60% of the funding going to sites in disadvantaged communities (December 17, 2021)
  8. $1 billion in Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) funding to increase resilience to extreme weather events (August 9, 2021)
  9. $50 million dollars for environmental justice initiatives at EPA (June 25, 2021)

Critical Next Steps

Continue Justice40 implementation. Specifically, the administration must:

  1. Launch the Environmental Justice Scorecard with agency methods for calculating and tracking community benefits
  2. Update the CEJST to address stakeholder comments and release final version of the tool
  3. Issue a full list of federal agency Justice40 programs
  4. Issue final White House Justice40 implementing guidance for federal agencies
  5. Provide more technical support and capacity building to local governments and community groups representing disadvantaged communities so they can successfully apply for federal grants
  6. Simplify grant application processes to make federal funds more accessible to disadvantaged communities
  7. Work with state governors and agencies and local governments and community groups to support the delivery of Justice40 funding to communities that need it the most
  8. Strengthen federal programs to maximize the benefits delivered to disadvantaged communities and avoid harms, such as increased pollution or community displacement

EJNCP Members signed on to the statement:

Center for American Progress

Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy

Center for the Urban Environment of the John S. Watson Institute for Urban Policy and Research, Kean University

Deep South Center for Environmental Justice

Earthjustice

East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform

Green Door Initiative

Harambee House - Citizens for Environmental Justice

League of Conservation Voters

Los Jardines Institute

Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition

Midwest Environmental Justice Network

Natural Resources Defense Council

New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance

ReGenesis Project

Sierra Club

Tishman Environmental and Design Center at the New School

Union of Concerned Scientists

Additional Resources

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