Thursday, May 12, 2022

Biden administration unleashes new DOJ environmental justice police; Biden to Crack Down on Polluters in Poor, Minority Areas

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
Biden administration unleashes new DOJ environmental justice police:
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday the launch of a new Justice Department office to advance President Biden’s environmental justice agenda.
The new Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) will oversee climate and pollution laws. The office will also oversee compensation for victims hurt by violations of federal environmental laws, payouts that were eliminated during the Trump administration.
“For far too long, these communities have faced barriers to accessing the justice they deserve,” Mr. Garland said. “In our environmental efforts, we will prioritize the cases that will have the greatest impact on the communities most overburdened by environmental harm.”
The actions he outlined represented a key part of the administration’s strategy to unilaterally advance a climate and environmental justice agenda in the face of gridlock in Congress.
The OEJ will work with Justice’s civil rights division. Cynthia Ferguson, an attorney from the department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, will serve as the acting director of the new office.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, who participated in the announcement, said compensation for environmental justice victims would be part of a civil settlement process that could go toward community public health projects, including things like new air filter systems in schools and heavily industrialized areas, and reducing lead paint hazards in houses. --->READ MORE HERE
Michael Reynolds/Pool Photo via AP
Biden to crack down on polluters in poor, minority areas:
Following through on a campaign promise, the Biden administration on Thursday announced a wide-ranging enforcement strategy aimed at holding industrial polluters accountable for damage done to poor and minority communities.
The strategy includes creation of an Office of Environmental Justice within the Justice Department and reinstatement of a dormant program that allowed fines paid by industry as part of a settlement go to community activities such as river cleanup, health clinics or other programs that benefit the environment or public health.
“The burdens of environmental pollution have long been borne disproportionately by members of minority and low-income communities,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta in prepared remarks. “No American should have to live, work or send their kids to school in a neighborhood that carries an unfair share of environmental hazards.”
President Joe Biden had promised during the 2020 campaign that he would establish an environmental justice division in Justice Department and elevate environmental justice issues in an all-of-government approach.
The strategy unveiled Thursday is intended to guide the work of employees throughout the Justice Department, including U.S. attorneys across the country who will begin a renewed focus on environmental justice issues, Gupta said. --->READ MORE HERE
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