White House Guidance on Environmental Justice Will Direct Help Where Needed

Statement by Johanna Chao Kreilick, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jul 21, 2021

WASHINGTON (July 21, 2021)—Yesterday, President Biden released his administration’s interim guidance to federal agencies on how to implement the Justice40 Initiative—a pledge to distribute at least 40 percent of the benefits of federal climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities. Under the administration’s guidance, other relevant federal agencies also must identify ways to direct investments to marginalized communities and engage with those populations.

Below is a statement by Johanna Chao Kreilick, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“I’m thrilled to see the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative moving forward and that it contains many recommendations made by the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform and is aligned with the Environmental Justice for All Act. As the federal government addresses the climate crisis and environmental justice impacts, it has an opportunity to correct historic and longstanding injustices to marginalized communities across the country. As efforts around clean energy continue to ramp up, we must ensure that the benefits accrue equitably.

“No one should have to breathe toxic air pollution from fossil fuels. No one should have to live in a home with leaky windows and doors, driving up their electricity bill. No one should be relegated to antiquated transportation belching smoke.

“Marginalized communities have dealt with this discrimination for far too long. Hopefully, directing targeted resources into these communities will yield results soon.

“The administration did a good job drawing up the parameters for who qualifies for help, and the Union of Concerned Scientists is pleased that the White House will soon roll out a Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to provide additional information to agencies about disadvantaged communities requiring assistance.

“The administration has asked environmental justice communities to publicly monitor federal agencies’ progress, which is a welcome sign. In addition, the White House Council on Environmental Quality must have adequate resources and the authority to ensure agencies are accountable.

“We look forward to seeing robust final guidance and working with environmental justice partners and other stakeholders to ensure it is fully implemented.”