By Karen Stokes
After a year of progress in advancing environmental justice, the Biden-Harris administration launched a Justice40 week of action on Monday to highlight additional measures that are delivering real benefits to communities across the country.
“We are using this week to highlight some of the key areas of the Justice40 initiative,” said Brenda Mallory, chair of the Whitehouse Council on Environmental Quality.
As part of this historic commitment to environmental justice, President Biden created the Justice40 initiative to ensure that federal agencies deliver 40% of overall climate benefits, clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, drinking water and other investments to disadvantaged communities.
“One thing that was announced, our recent spending in dollars. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that $500 million of bipartisan Presidential Infrastructure Act funding will be used to replace the nation’s school bus fleet with clean, manufactured buses. in the United States and zero emissions,” Mallory said.
With this funding, the EPA announced $1.3 billion for various grants that will address and reduce pollution, such as cleaning up brownfields and Superfund sites, and reducing lead in drinking water, in benefit disadvantaged communities.
“Recently, Vice President Harris was in a location in New Jersey where the funding was being used directly to remove the lead pipes,” Mallory said. “It’s an example of what’s really happening on the pitch.”
The Department of the Interior (DOI) also announced $725 million for the reclamation of abandoned mining lands. The funds will help communities eliminate dangerous environmental hazards and pollution caused by coal mining in the past, while creating well-paying jobs.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced $759.7 million in grants to support sustainable and affordable housing in disadvantaged, tribal and low socioeconomic communities, including $365 million to identify, remedy and protect the most vulnerable and disadvantaged from the harmful effects of lead. alcohol-based paints in homes.
The White House also announced the launch of a series of Justice40 stakeholder engagement meetings with agency, state and community-level leaders that will bring administration officials into communities to listen to concerns. stakeholders and identify ways to amplify the impact of Justice40. programs covered.
“The idea for Justice40 Action Week is that we wanted to use it as an opportunity to make new announcements like school buses, but also draw attention to the work that’s going on across the country that relates to environmental justice,” Mallory said. .
An additional announcement released today is that the White House has launched a new website, whitehouse.gov/EnvironmentalJustice.
“It will give people one place they can go to get centralized information on what’s happening in environmental justice across government,” Mallory said.