President Joe Biden on Friday plans to sign an executive order that would make “environmental justice” the mission of federal agencies, the White House said.
The Democratic administration wants to ensure that poverty, race and ethnic status do not lead to worse exposure to pollution and environmental harm. Biden is trying to draw a contrast between his agenda and that of Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. GOP lawmakers have called for less regulation of oil production to lower energy prices, while the White House says the GOP policies would give benefits to highly profitable oil companies and surrender the renewable energy sector to the Chinese.
Biden will sign the executive order to continue delivering on “the most ambitious environmental justice agenda in our nation’s history,” the White House said in a statement.
The order tells executive branch agencies to use data and scientific research to understand how pollution hurts people’s health, so that work can be done to limit any damage. It also establishes the White House Office of Environmental Justice, which will help coordinate efforts across the government.
Under the order, executive agencies would be required to inform nearby communities if toxic substances were released from a federal facility.
The EPA last year formed its own Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights, merging three existing EPA programs to oversee a portion of Democrats’ $60 billion investment in environmental justice initiatives created by last year’s Inflation Reduction Act.