On May 13, the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC or the Council) voted and agreed on recommendations to advance the Biden administration’s environmental justice (EJ) agenda. Housed within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the WHEJAC was established by Executive Order (EO) 14008 to recommend to the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council how to address current and historic EJ issues.
WHEJAC adopted recommendations of the three working groups: the Justice40 Initiative (Justice40), EO 12898, and Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool.
On May 7, 2021, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan wrote the mayor of Chicago, suggesting that the city suspend a decision on a permit seeking to expand a metal recycling plant in Chicago’s southeast side until a full environmental justice (EJ) analysis is conducted. Administrator Regan’s action is consistent with his comments during the first meeting of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (discussed here), in which Regan outlined EPA’s intention to use Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to advance EJ concerns in connection with facility siting decisions.
On April 30, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Assistant Administrator for Enforcement, Lawrence Starfield, issued a memorandum outlining agency enforcement plans in communities with environmental justice concerns. Given the Biden administration’s focus on environmental justice both during the campaign and since the inauguration, this memorandum is not a surprise. The memorandum follows on Administrator Michael Regan’s message to EPA employees regarding the agency’s commitment to environmental justice, which was discussed on this blog on April 13.
On April 28, the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) reconvened to discuss the progress of three working groups established during its inaugural meeting on which we reported previously: the Justice40 Initiative, Executive Order 12898, and Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool working groups.
On April 23, the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Michael Regan, announced three new agency initiatives to support “community-driven solutions” for environmental justice and climate change in North America and across the world. The announcement came in conjunction with President Joe Biden’s Leaders Summit on Climate where the President pledged to cut nationwide net greenhouse gas emissions at least 50% to 52% by 2030 in comparison to 2005 levels. (more…)
Last week the U.S. House of Representatives advanced the first piece of legislation of the year regarding environmental, social, and governance (ESG). On Wednesday, April 21, the House Financial Services Committee passed H.R. 1187, the ESG Disclosure Simplification Act of 2021, by a party-line vote of 28-22.
In an April 7 Agencywide memorandum, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) Administrator Michael Regan recommitted EPA to advancing environmental justice initiatives. Administrator Regan stated that it would be one of his “top priorities” to address environmental effects on communities whose residents are predominately of color, Indigenous, or low-income.
During the past week, President Biden’s focus on environmental justice continued to take shape with the announcement by the White House of the Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) membership and the WHEJAC’s first meeting.
On February 18, 2021, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reopened the comment period for its Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on the Certification of New Interstate Natural Gas Facilities. FERC applies its current policy, issued in 1999, to assess whether to issue interstate natural gas transportation facilities a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN), a foundational permit required for their construction and operation. FERC must abide with its obligations under the Natural Gas Act and National Environmental Policy Act when considering pipeline certificate applications. FERC initially issued the NOI in April 2018, seeking comment on whether, and if so how, it should revise its approach to evaluating CPCN applications. The docket has been pending for nearly three years.
On January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden issued an executive order, “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” The order directs executive agency heads to review hundreds of agency actions implemented during the Trump administration, including more than 120 related to energy and the environment. In addition, the order suspends or revokes, in whole or in part, nearly one dozen executive orders issued by the prior president directly tied to energy infrastructure.