EPA's Environmental Justice Department to Launch Several Crucial Initiatives

Lizzy Rosenberg - Author

Sep. 26 2022, Published 12:44 p.m. ET

Michael Regan
Source: Getty Images

Four months after the EPA announced the creation of an Office of Environmental Justice, it was finally made official. EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan announced its launch from North Carolina's Warren County on Saturday, Sept. 24. Formally known as the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights, it will tackle various environmental injustice issues, using 200 staff members from 10 U.S. regions.

But what kinds of initiatives are planned for the EPA's environmental justice office?

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This is only part of the Biden administration's commitment to tackle to environmental justice issues — but it is undoubtedly one of the most crucial aspects of the ongoing fight against climate change.

“President Biden and I have been clear: we must ground our work to address the climate crisis and our greatest environmental challenges in justice and equity,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in an official statement.

The national office will put environmental justice and civil rights issues at the forefront — to way for policy changes, and push for environmental equality. Harris feels extra hopeful in how it will help underserved communities.

“The establishment of a new office dedicated to advancing environmental justice and civil rights at EPA will ensure the lived experiences of underserved communities are central to our decision-making while supporting community-driven solutions," Harris continued.

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Source: Getty Images

The EPA's Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights' Initiatives:

The EPA's Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights Office merges three existing program: the Office of Environmental Justice, External Civil Rights Compliance Office, and Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center. Long-term, per the EPA's press release, it looks to make environmental laws more inclusive, regardless of race, nationality, income, or skin color.

It also aims to further engage with communities over environmental justice concerns, and strengthen equal rights laws.

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The new office alleges it will prevent discrimination through enforcing various civil rights laws, and will provide services to those involved in environmental conflicts.

It has short-term plans to launch a $3 billion climate and environmental justice block grant program to invest in environmental justice. It also looks to implement other funding programs which stem from the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and Biden's Justice40 initiative.

Ideally, this will properly protect vulnerable communities from harm they regularly face, which result from pollution, climate change, and moroe.

“From day one, President Biden and EPA have been committed to delivering progress on environmental justice and civil rights and ensuring that underserved and overburdened communities are at the forefront of our work,” stated EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. He is the first Black man to hold said position.

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“With the launch of a new national program office," he continued, "we are embedding environmental justice and civil rights into the DNA of EPA and ensuring that people who’ve struggled to have their concerns addressed see action to solve the problems they’ve been facing for generations."

Source: Getty Images
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Who will lead the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights?

Even though Regan is currently the EPA Administrator, someone else will need to lead the organization's newest agency. But who will it be?

As of publication, the leader of the new office is unconfirmed. According to PBS News, the president will be nominating an assistant administrator who will take charge of the new environmental justice office. However, Biden first needs to receive confirmation from the Senate, prior to its announcement.

There are so many diverse environmental leaders that would be perfect for the job, so it goes without saying we're beyond excited to see who receives the incredibly important and honorable title.

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