Declaring his commitment to “environmental justice” for “disadvantaged communities,” US President Joe Biden has ordered the creation of new enforcement offices in two departments and a regulatory agency.
As part of a sweeping executive order signed on Wednesday, the new or expanded “climate justice” offices will be established at the Department of Justice (DOJ), Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“We know the communities who are being hurt, and we know we have to start enforcing the standards today in ensuring that they are part of the solution,” Gina McCarthy, Biden’s newly minted climate adviser, told reporters on Wednesday.
McCarthy, who ran the EPA between 2013 and 2017 during the Obama administration, praised the Biden-Harris administration for its “most ambitious climate vision” ever and said the new orders recognize the “intersectionality” of climate with the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and “racial equity.”
“Science is telling us that we don’t have a moment to lose,” added McCarthy.
Biden’s executive orders direct the US government to “develop programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic, and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities,” according to talking points released by the White House.
Among its provisions is the establishment of a “Justice40 Initiative,” which aims to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of federal investment to “disadvantaged communities” and establish an Environmental Justice Scorecard to track its progress.
The newly established White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council will “prioritize environmental justice and ensure a whole-of-government approach to addressing current and historical environmental injustices,” the White House said.
It wasn’t immediately clear what qualified one as “disadvantaged” or what “environmental justice” might mean in practice. The order establishing these new bureaucracies was part of a broader push for “renewable” energy that Biden promised during the presidential campaign, while insisting this was not the ‘Green New Deal’ promoted by some Democrats.
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