On April 21, 2023, the President Biden issued an “Executive Order on Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All.” The new Executive Order provides that “each [federal] agency should make achieving environmental justice part of its mission.” To that end, it provides that agencies shall:

  • Identify, analyze, and address disproportionate and adverse human health and environmental effects (including risks) and hazards of Federal activities, including those related to climate change and cumulative impacts of environmental and other burdens on communities with environmental justice concerns;
  • Identify, analyze, and address historical inequities, systemic barriers, or actions related to any Federal regulation, policy, or practice that impair the ability of communities with environmental justice concerns to achieve or maintain a healthy and sustainable environment;
  • Identify, analyze, and address barriers related to Federal activities that impair the ability of communities with environmental justice concerns to receive equitable access to human health or environmental benefits, including benefits related to natural disaster recovery and climate mitigation, adaptation, and resilience;
  • Evaluate relevant legal authorities and, as available and appropriate, take steps to provide, in consultation with unions and employers, opportunities for workforce training and to support the creation of high-quality and well-paying jobs, including union jobs, for people who are part of communities with environmental justice concerns;
  • Provide opportunities for the meaningful engagement of persons and communities with environmental justice concerns who are potentially affected by Federal activities; and
  • Consider ways to encourage and, as appropriate, ensure that recipients of Federal funds – including recipients of block grant funding – and entities subject to contractual, licensing, or other arrangements with Federal agencies advance environmental justice.

In issuing the Executive Order, President Biden stated that “environmental justice will become the responsibility of every single federal agency,” which “must take into account environmental health impacts on communities and work to prevent those negative impacts.  Environmental justice will be the mission of the entire government woven directly into how we work with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments.”

The Executive Order builds upon President Biden’s Justice 40 Initiative, which was released in 2022 and aims to provide “40 percent of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments” to “disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.”

A copy of the Executive Order can be found here.