President Joe Biden issued an executive order on Friday mandating the entire federal government to concentrate on addressing "environmental justice," arguing that racial discrimination has led to minority communities suffering disproportionately from environmental harm and the impact of climate change.
In a statement, the White House claimed that due to racial discrimination, minority groups are more likely to experience various environmental harms and are allegedly more vulnerable to climate change. President Biden's executive order aims to intensify the "whole-of-government" approach to climate issues, which he has frequently promoted.
“For far too long, communities across our country have faced persistent environmental injustice through toxic pollution, underinvestment in infrastructure and critical services, and other disproportionate environmental harms often due to a legacy of racial discrimination including redlining,” the White House stated. “These communities with environmental justice concerns face even greater burdens due to climate change.”
Unveiled in the Rose Garden on Friday, the executive order also established the White House Office of Environmental Justice, headed by a Federal Chief Environmental Justice Officer. This office will be responsible for coordinating "environmental justice policy" across the federal government.
The order clarifies that pursuing environmental justice is a duty of all executive branch agencies and should be incorporated into their missions. It directs these agencies to consider measures addressing adverse environmental and health impacts on communities, including the cumulative impacts of pollution and other burdens, such as climate change.
“Racism is a fundamental driver of environmental injustice,” the statement added, clarifying that the order order “directs agencies to actively facilitate meaningful public participation and just treatment of all people in agency decision-making.”
This latest executive order follows the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, both of which allocated substantial funds for climate initiatives and renewable energy incentives. The Biden administration has introduced new emissions rules for household appliances, tightened energy efficiency standards for mobile homes, and proposed new vehicle emissions regulations to promote the increased adoption of electric cars.
Upon taking office, President Biden canceled expansions to the Keystone XL pipeline, slowed federal oil lease approvals, and returned the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement. This international treaty calls for reducing worldwide emissions by half ahead of 2030, as Biden advocates for a broader transition towards renewable energy.
Despite the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, some Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), recently reintroduced the Green New Deal. This resolution aims to solve climate change by drastically reshaping the American economy, calling for the United States to meet all power demand through renewable and zero-emission sources, upgrade all existing buildings for maximum energy efficiency, and overhaul the transportation system to minimize carbon emissions within the next decade.