The Biden administration, on Thursday, announced a new effort to crack down on the disproportionate polluting of poor communities and communities of color with the creation of a new office within DOJ. The Office of Environmental Justice will aim to hold polluters accountable for the pollution they dump into “fenceline communities,” and the Dept. of Justice will also reinstate the use of “supplemental environmental projects” that require polluters to fund projects in the communities they harm in exchange for lowered fines.
Also on Thursday, the White House announced Jalonne White-Newsome had been appointed as the new CEQ Senior Director for Environmental Justice. Advocates praised White-Newsome and her appointment, but cautioned much more is needed to address systemic environmental racism, and raised concerns about a proposed screening tool for “disadvantaged communities” that omitted race as a factor. “It’s great, but it’s one person,” Maria Lopez-Nunez, a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, told ICN.“It can’t just be one person in one agency that doesn’t have an accountability lever—I want to see teeth, not symbolic gestures.” (DOJ: AP, E&E News, Reuters, The Hill, CNN, Politico Pro $, Washington Post $; CEQ: Inside Climate News, Washington Post $, E&E $, Politico Pro $, Bloomberg Law)