Remarks as Delivered
Thanks, Administrator Regan. We are grateful that you are able to be here today.
The burdens of environmental pollution have long been borne disproportionately by members of minority, Tribal and low-income communities. No American should have to live, work or send their kids to school in a neighborhood that carries a disproportionate share of environmental hazards.
The Justice Department is committed to doing everything we can to address these disparities. That is why, as the Attorney General mentioned, we are issuing a comprehensive strategy on environmental justice to guide the work of all department components. This new strategy will ensure that the department is using every available tool to secure environmental justice for everyone.
This means prioritizing enforcement of environmental laws as well as civil rights statutes, such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits recipients of federal funding from discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin.
The strategy directs department components to prioritize cases that reduce environmental harms on overburdened and underserved communities, including communities of color, Tribal populations and low-income rural and urban communities.
To that end, department components, with the support from the new Office of Environmental Justice, will be tasked with developing protocols to assess the environmental justice impacts of their investigations.
We also know that securing environmental justice demands the meaningful involvement of affected communities in the decisions that impact them.
So, the strategy directs the new Office of Environmental Justice to work to build deeper connections with communities that are affected by violations of environmental laws.
And it requires all 93 U.S. Attorneys across the country to designate an environmental justice coordinator to help identify areas of concern in their communities, and to establish procedures for members of the public to report those concerns.
To sustain our commitment to environmental justice, the department needs a workforce that is informed about environmental justice issues and concerns. The strategy thus requires the development of environmental justice education programs and training opportunities for department personnel.
This comprehensive strategy underscores the department’s commitment to ensuring that all Americans have access to clean water to drink, clean air to breathe and healthy, thriving communities where they can live, work and raise their families. That is the heart of environmental justice.