It’s Time for DOJ to Hold Polluters Accountable for Reprehensible Actions in Environmental Justice Communities

Earthjustice endorses bill to establish an Office of Environmental Justice and an Environmental Justice section at the Department of Justice


Geoffrey Nolan, Earthjustice, (202) 740-7030

Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and U.S. Representative Nanette Diaz Barragan introduced the Empowering and Enforcing Environmental Justice Act of 2022. The bill would establish an overarching Office of Environmental Justice within the Department of Justice (DOJ) and an Environmental Justice Section within the Environment and Natural Resources Division in the same agency. Together, these offices will prioritize engagement with environmental justice communities and hold polluting industries accountable for harms perpetrated against frontline communities even as they support similar efforts of state and local entities. The Environmental Justice Office would facilitate greater coordination across federal agencies on the implementation of President Biden’s Justice 40 Initiative while the Environmental Justice section would ensure that DOJ attorneys prioritize work addressing longstanding environmental justice issues when working on compliance issues.

“This legislation is an important step toward securing a whole-of-government approach to remedying decades of environmental racism and holding polluting industries accountable for violating the law and harming communities,” said Earthjustice Legislative Director of the Healthy Communities Program Raul Garcia. “Communities of color and those of low-income have fought for decades to address longstanding environmental injustices while the federal government response has often fallen short. We thank Senator Padilla and Rep. Barragan for this legislation to better ensure the Department of Justice effectively enforces our environmental laws and provides justice to communities long overburdened by toxic exposure to pollution.”

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Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.