Under the Biden Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA” or the “Agency”) has announced the advancement of environmental justice and civil rights as an Agency goal. For fiscal years 2022–2026, the Agency has included in its FY 2022 – FY 2026 EPA Strategic Plan (“Strategic Plan”) the objective to promote environmental justice and civil rights at the federal, tribal, state, and local levels. Within that plan, the EPA noted that the Agency “ha[s] already seen an increase in external civil rights cases being referred to the EPA, and…are investigating them to ensure that recipients of EPA dollars do not discriminate based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or retaliation.” (more…)
On April 14, 2022, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) released an Equity Action Plan, in accordance with Executive Order 13985, which directs EPA and other federal agencies to develop a plan to address barriers faced by underserved communities regarding full and equal participation in the Agency’s programs and procurement and contracting opportunities. Within the Equity Action Plan, EPA identifies six agency priority actions: (more…)
On February 18, 2022, the Biden administration launched two tools to address environmental justice.
Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool (EJSCREEN) 2.0
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) announced EJSCREEN 2.0, an update to the mapping tool, which the Agency uses to identify areas that may have higher environmental burdens and vulnerable populations. EPA uses EJSCREEN to inform several Agency functions, including permitting, enforcement, outreach, and compliance. (more…)
On February 8, 2022, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan announced the appointment of Robin Morris Collin as Senior Advisor of Environmental Justice to the Administrator. This appointment is the most recent agency action in the EPA-wide effort to prioritize environmental justice. According to EPA, “Collin will advise Administrator Regan as the Agency works to advance environmental justice and civil rights in communities that continue to suffer from disproportionately high pollution levels, including low-income communities and communities of color.” (more…)
On February 11, 2022, Judge James Cain of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming (Plaintiff States) to prohibit federal agencies from adopting and relying on the interim Social Cost of Greenhouse Gas (SC-GHG) estimates established by the Interagency Working Group (IWG). Executive Order 13990 mandated that IWG publish estimates of the monetized damages associated with incremental increases in greenhouse gas emissions. (more…)
On November 9, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced its first environmental justice investigation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance from discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. DOJ announced that the investigation initiated by DOJ’s Civil Rights Division’s Federal Coordination and Compliance Section, with the support of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama, will focus on two issues. (more…)
On September 9, 2021, the California Air Resources Board (CARB or the Agency) released a draft proposal for the Agency’s Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) regulation, which would mandate zero emissions for all new medium- and heavy-duty trucks sold in the state beginning in 2040. The draft proposal provides an exemption for authorized emergency vehicles. (more…)
On September 8, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) released Preliminary Effluent Program Plan 15 (Preliminary Plan 15), which outlines the Agency’s 2020 annual review of effluent guidelines and pretreatment standards (ELG), identifies new or existing industrial categories for ELG rulemaking, and provides an update on the Agency plan to improve its annual review and biennial planning process. (more…)
On September 2, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency) released a 100-page report, entitled “Climate Change and Social Vulnerability in the United States,” that analyzes the impact of projected climate change on four population groups within the United States. This report represents the Agency’s latest effort to further the Biden administration’s agenda to advance environmental justice and address the effects of climate change on vulnerable populations, as outlined in Executive Order 14008 on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. (more…)
On June 11, 2021, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representative A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) announced the reintroduction of the Environmental Justice Pollution Cleanup Act of 2021 – a bill first introduced in 2020, which would provide for significant investment in environmental justice communities to address the health and environmental effects of pollution. This marks the latest of a series of proposed legislation addressing environmental justice. In March 2021, we reported on the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which allocated $100 million in funding to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for programs, including the retrofitting or replacement of diesel engines or equipment, cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields sites, and technical assistance for small community water systems.