On Sept. 24, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the establishment the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights. The agency created the new office by merging three existing programs: the Office of Environmental Justice, the External Civil Rights Compliance Office, and the Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center.
The Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights will oversee the implementation and delivery of a $3 billion climate and Environmental Justice block grant program created by the Inflation Reduction Act, part of the law’s $60 billion investment in Environmental Justice.
“With the launch of a new national program office, we are embedding Environmental Justice and civil rights into the DNA of EPA and ensuring that people who’ve struggled to have their concerns addressed see action to solve the problems they’ve been facing for generations,” says EPA Administrator Michael Regan.
The office also will ensure the EPA’s implementation of other funding programs provided by the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and regular appropriations comply with President Joe Biden’s Justice40 Initiative. The Justice40 Initiative aims to provide 40% of the overall benefits of federal investments relating to climate change, clean energy, and related areas to disadvantaged communities.
The new office follows the launch of several initiatives from the Biden administration aimed at addressing the impacts faced by those living in underserved communities overburdened by pollution.
ISRI has already started to engage with the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights and more information will be forthcoming.