Today President Joe Biden will sign several sweeping executive orders focused on addressing climate change. One will fulfill a campaign promise Biden made to halt new oil and gas leasing on federal lands. Currently, fossil fuel leasing on federal and tribal land makes up nearly a quarter of the country’s annual emissions. The same executive order is also likely to outline a ten-year goal of conserving 30 percent of federal land and waters by 2030. In addition, Biden is expected to sign a memo to restore scientific integrity, and plans to make environmental justice an organizing principle of his climate agenda.
Sources say he plans to establish a White House environmental justice interagency council and a separate environmental justice office at the Justice Department. Federal agencies would focus on investing in low-income communities and communities of color that have historically suffered the most from pollution and other environmental hazards. “When you have the most powerful legal department in the country saying that environmental justice is a basic right, I think that is a signal being sent across the country to say that this is real at the highest level,” longtime environmental justice advocate, Robert Bullard, told the Washington Post. (Overview: New York Times $, NBC, E&E, Marketplace; Leasing Moratorium: Washington Post $, CNN, Al Jazeera, WSJ $, WSJ $, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Advocate; EJ: Washington Post $)