Biden signs executive order on environmental justice

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President Biden last week signed an executive order directing government agencies to take action regarding environmental justice. The follows Congressman Raúl Grijalva introducing the Environmental Justice for All Act in March. Congressman Grijalva joined Arizona Horizon to talk about the right to clean air and water.

What did the executive order say?

The order covered a laundry-list of actions, including:

  • Looking to agencies to “consider measures to address and prevent disproportionate and adverse environmental and health impacts on communities, including the cumulative impacts of pollution and other burdens like climate change”
  • Establishing a new Environmental Justice subcommittee in the National Science and Technology Council
  • Directing government agencies to assess their environmental justice commitments, as well as publishing the first federal Environmental Justice scorecard
  • Announcing the Department of Commerce, the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s commitment to the Justice40 initiative.

In response, Grijalva released a joint statement with Senators Tammy Duckworth and Cory Booker as well as Representative Barbara Lee. The statement praised the Biden administration, noting the priorities in the order are similar to those in the Environmental Justice for All Act.

“Today, the Biden administration is telling the millions of Americans living in environmental justice communities that they are finally being heard and heeded,” the legislators said in the joint written statement.

Grijalva also released an individual statement after the executive order was signed. He said while he commends the Biden administration for the move, more work still needs to be done.

“While today is cause for celebration, our fight continues. I will work closely with the Biden administration to implement this executive order and ensure that every environmental justice community is given the ability to protect their health, loved ones and livelihoods against legacy polluters,” Grijalva said in a written statement.

What is environmental justice?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website, environmental justice is “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.”

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D) District 7

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