Environmental Justice Features in Early Biden Transition Planning

Earlier this month, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden announced multiple picks for the transition team with an environmental justice (EJ) focus. Leading the transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is Patrice Simms, who is vice president for healthy communities at Earthjustice. Simms has advocated for environmental enforcement focused on low-income communities and communities of color, and he has critiqued the Trump administration on the same topic. The transition team also includes alumni of the Obama administration with a reported record on EJ issues.

Leading the transition team for the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is Dr. Cecilia Martinez, a research professor at the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy at the University of Delaware. CEQ oversees implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act, a likely target for EJ advocates in a Biden administration. Martinez co-edited an environmental policy volume titled Environmental Justice: Discourses in International Political Economy, originally published in 2001.

Meanwhile, contenders for the nomination to lead the EPA in the new administration are touting their own EJ records and vision. Based on these signals, regulated entities should be prepared for EJ to be a substantial regulatory and enforcement focus in a new administration.