President Joe Biden’s administration on Tuesday announced a new Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) to safeguard “communities of color” from zoning restrictions and pollution, among other goals.
The OEJ will report to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and sit on the HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, according to Xavier Becerra, HHS secretary. Biden created the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity in 2021 to stop global warming.
“The truth is that many communities across our country – especially low-income communities and communities of color – continue to bear the brunt of pollution from industrial development, poor land use decisions, transportation and trade corridors,” Becerra said in a press release. Release. “Meeting the needs of these communities requires our full attention. That’s why HHS is creating the Office of Environmental Justice.
White House Environmental Quality Council Chair Brenda Mallory described the agency’s responsibilities as “prioritizing environmental justice.” She also said that not all communities in the United States have clean air and clean water.
“By creating this new office and prioritizing environmental justice at HHS, Secretary Becerra is undertaking the type of bold institutional reform that is desperately needed to deliver clean air and clean water to all communities.” , Mallory said. “Today’s announcement is a key step in confronting environmental injustice – in all its heartbreaking forms – with the full force and commitment of the federal government.”
Specifically, the agency’s announcement indicates that Biden’s OEJ will be responsible for the following:
- Lead initiatives that integrate environmental justice into HHS’s mission to improve the health of disadvantaged communities and vulnerable populations across the country.
- Develop and implement an HHS-wide strategy on environmental justice and health.
- Coordinate annual HHS Environmental Justice Reports.
- Provide the HHS Office of Civil Rights with environmental justice expertise to support compliance under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Promote training opportunities to build an environmental justice workforce.
The announcement comes after Biden came under pressure from climate activists for not taking enough action on global warming. The pressure came to a head when the White House couldn’t convince Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) to pass a Green New Deal-style House proposal in the Senate. The legislation stalled because Manchin feared more expensive spending would further fuel Biden’s already high inflation of 40 years. The proposed package would have cost the US taxpayer more than $2.1 trillion.
“It should surprise no one that Sen. Joe Manchin went on Fox News to kill the Build Back Better Act — he’s been promising to do it for months, and some people wouldn’t believe him,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib said ( D-MI ) said. “The Build Back Better legislation is making meaningful changes by expanding health care, making child care more affordable, fighting climate change, providing safe drinking water and more.
Follow Wendell Husebo on Twitter and Gettr @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of slave morality.