White House Plans to Step Up Environmental Justice Enforcement

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Illustration by Giorguio Tadieski via Flickr.

Since President Biden has been in office, his administration has made it clear that the environment, and addressing climate change, are at the top of the priority list.

Now, as the administration progresses through the first year in office, the environmental agenda is advancing with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcing increased inspections, greater cooperation with state and local governments, and faster case development, reports Bloomberg News.

EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance has provided enforcement goals for increased inspections and civil enforcement near overburdened communities and resolving non-compliance with remedies that provide tangible local benefits, address past harms, and include early and “innovative relief” such as fence-line monitoring.

Much of this regulation is in connection to the Biden administration’s prioritization of racial justice from within the environmental justice lens.

See Also: Racial Segregation and Environmental Injustice

Bloomberg News details how recently, the EPA announced investigations into companies and agencies that have discriminated against predominantly African-American and Latinx communities in Brooklyn, NY, following the permit of a new gas pipeline.

The agency is also expanding state and tribal partnerships to enhance enforcement in overburdened communities with joint, targeted inspections and enforcement actions.

Within this newfound push for environmental justice, the EPA also plans to expand the office’s criminal enforcement program to increase detection of crimes, with new guidelines calling for increased contaminated site enforcement, in part through using its mapping tool, EJSCREEN.

Looking at the numbers, the EPA has targeted doubling the rate of annual inspections at facilities near environmental justice communities to 55 percent by September 2026—meaning half all such facilities would be inspected annually by EPA.

With this greater increase in inspections, cooperation with current climate law and policy will be imperative for companies.

Additional Reading: How Will the U.S. Handle Environmental Refugees?

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