Environmental Justice at Other Agencies

Click here to return to EELP’s Federal Environmental Justice Tracker.

As part of Biden’s whole-of-government approach to tackling climate change and environmental injustice, non-environmental agencies are playing an increasingly important role. For example, USDA is working to develop a new revolving loan fund to assist owners of heirs’ property, FERC is finally building out its Office of Public Participation, and HHS has established a new Office of Climate Change and Health Equity. Some of these programs were explicitly mandated by law or by President Biden via executive order; others are discretionary decisions made by agency leadership.

These lists are not comprehensive. We include only those efforts with an explicit connection to addressing climate and environmental justice, and will be tracking these agencies less actively than those listed on the main EJ Tracker page.

Army Corps of Engineers (ACE)

  • June 3, 2022: The Army Corps is seeking comment on its effort to modernize the Civil Works program, including measures the Army Corps should take related to environmental justice, including the Biden Administration’s Justice40 Initiative. Written comments are due by Aug. 2, 2022 and can be submitted here.
  • June 3, 2022: The Army Corps announces it is reasserting jurisdiction over Twin Pines Minerals’ proposal to mine minerals outside the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, one of the world’s largest intact freshwater ecosystems. The Corps says that the project will have to submit new applications for federal permits because the Muscogee Creek Nation had not been properly consulted when the Corps initially granted permits under President Trump.
  • Apr. 14, 2022: The Department of Defense (DOD) releases its first ever Equity Action Plan as part of its implementation of Executive Order 13985. The plan highlights five new strategies to advance equity: increasing economic opportunities for small businesses and expanding contracting with individuals with disabilities; addressing past harms resulting from environmental and other impacts from defense activities; advancing equity for military families; addressing safe and ethical uses of AI technology; and investing in underserved communities and expanding access to the Department’s programs and opportunities. See a summary of DOD’s Equity Action Plan here.
  • Dec. 6, 2021: The same day as the first Tribal Nations Summit since 2016, the White House releases a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by 17 federal agencies, including the Dept. of Defense, committing to increase consultation and collaboration with Tribes in recognition of existing treaty and reserved rights. The MOU includes agency-specific commitmemts including to create a searchable treaty database, and integrate tribal treaty and reserved rights early into agency decision-making, in particular work to address the climate crisis. (See pp. 3-4 of the MOU for more).
  • Aug. 18, 2021: The Army Corps announces that it will require a full environmental impact statement for a large proposed petrochemical complex in St. James Parish, Louisiana, which lies along the infamous “Cancer Alley” between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The complex, if approved, would be one of the largest source of ethylene oxide, a potent carcinogen, in the US. The review will include an assessment of the project’s disproportionate pollution burdens on nearby majority Black  communities.
  • April 27, 2021: President Biden nominates former Deputy Interior Secretary Michael Connor as assistant secretary for the Army for Civil Works, and thus responsible for overseeing the Army Corps’ non-military programs, including permitting for pipelines and mines. Connor is an expert in Federal Indian Law and an enrolled member of the Taos Pueblo. During his nomination hearing on July 14, Connor told the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works that “it’s not equitable” to only consider the economic value of projects that are proposed in overburdened communities.

Department of Agriculture (USDA)

  • Feb. 10, 2022: USDA announces the members of the newly formed Equity Commission and Subcommittee on Agriculture. The Commission was funded and authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act and will provide recommendations to the Secretary on programs and actions to strengthen equity at USDA. Details about each member and their first meeting held on Feb. 28, 2022 can be found here.
  • Feb. 1, 2022: USDA announces the formation of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production to aid in policy development and the identification of barriers to urban farming. The Committee will also seek to address issues of equity and food/nutrition access. For more information on the Committee and how to participate in public meetings, see the Committee’s page here.
  • Dec. 6, 2021: The same day as the first Tribal Nations Summit since 2016, the White House releases a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by 17 federal agencies, including USDA, committing to increase consultation and collaboration with Tribes in recognition of existing treaty and reserved rights. The MOU includes agency-specific commitmemts including to create a searchable treaty database, and integrate tribal treaty and reserved rights early into agency decision-making, in particular work to address the climate crisis. (See pp. 3-4 of the MOU for more).
  • Nov. 17, 2021: At her confirmation hearing, the Biden Administration’s nominee for USDA Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Margo Schlanger, states that she is committed to improving the USDA’s performance on equal rights for farmers and for USDA employees. She also plans on advocating for a more transparent process of receiving and addressing complaints.
  • Sep. 23, 2021: USDA senior advisor for racial equity to the agriculture secretary, Dewayne Goldman, coordinates a cross-departmental equity assessment of the agency and its engagements with agricultural producers, finding the need for representation of marginalized communities at key levels and the elimination of barriers for disadvantaged farmers to access loans or other aid.
  • Sep. 23, 2021: The Senate Agriculture Committee approves Homer Wilkes, President Biden’s nominee for Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment at USDA. If confirmed, Wilkes would oversee the US Forest Service. Wilkes was the first African American nominated for the post when he was first nominated by former President Obama in 2009. He currently serves as the Director of the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Restoration Division and has helped direct environmental recovery efforts after the 2010 BP Oil Spill.
  • Sep. 16, 2021: President Biden announces his nomination of Margo Schlanger to be USDA Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. Schlanger, a former civil rights official in the Obama administration, is currently a University of Michigan Law professor.
  • June 28, 2021: USDA Secretary Vilsack announces Randy Moore will be the new Chief of the Forest Service, the first African American to hold the role. Moore previously served as regional forester for the Pacific Southwest.
  • May 28, 2021: USDA submits a final rule to OIRA that would establish new revolving loan funds to help resolve ownership and succession concerns on farmland with multiple owners (i.e. heirs’ property). OIRA completed review of the rule on July 22.

Department of Commerce

 

Department of Labor

  • Apr. 14, 2022: Labor releases its first ever Equity Action Plan as part of its implementation of Executive Order 13985. The plan highlights five new strategies to advance equity: advancing fairness for underserved workers by equitably implementing wage and hour protections; launching a comprehensive initiative to address systemic barriers to Unemployment Insurance; ensuring workers with limited English proficiency are fully aware of their rights and can access workplace protections; and delivering equitable access to workforce training for historically underserved workers and job seekers to address persistently high unemployment rates faced by communities of color and other underserved communities. Read a summary of Labor’s Equity Action Plan here.
  • April 8, 2022: OSHA launches its first ever “National Emphasis Program” for heat, in which OSHA inspectors will target workplaces at ‘high risk” for heat exposure.The program allows inspectors to proactively visit a site instead of having to wait to receive a complaint or notice of a reported fatality or injury. Inspectors will assess whether workers are being protected from high heat and look for complaints about other hazards.
  • Dec. 6, 2021: The same day as the first Tribal Nations Summit since 2016, the White House releases a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by 17 federal agencies, including Labor, committing to increase consultation and collaboration with Tribes in recognition of existing treaty and reserved rights. The MOU includes agency-specific commitmemts including to create a searchable treaty database, and integrate tribal treaty and reserved rights early into agency decision-making, in particular work to address the climate crisis. (See pp. 3-4 of the MOU for more).
  • Nov. 12, 2021: President Biden nominates Christopher Williamson to lead the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Williamson is the leading expert on mine safety and health in Washington. Williamson is currently senior counsel to the Chair of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
  • Oct. 27, 2021: OSHA publishes an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to protect indoor and outdoor workers from heat-related illnesses. OSHA is interested in gathering information about hazardous heat conditions in the workplace and the effectiveness of interventions that can be adopted to prevent illness to inform the scope of its proposed standard and types of controls that should be required. Public comments can be submitted on or before Dec. 27, 2021 here.
  • Oct. 13, 2021: The Employee Benefits Security Administration publishes a proposed rule to remove barriers that prevented plan fiduciaries’ ability to consider environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) factors when selecting investments and exercising shareholder rights. The changes are designed to protect the financial well-being workers’ reitrement savings and pensions from climate-related financial risk. For more on the proposed change, see DOL’s press release here.
  • Sep. 20, 2021: The White House OSHA announces new initiatives at OSHA and other federal agencies to address extreme heat and occupatioal heat exposure, particularly for agricultural, construction, and delivery workers, as well as indoor workers in facilities that are not climate-controlled. As part of these efforts, OSHA plans to publish an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) for public comment in October, as well as use existing enforcement powers to prioritize heat0related interventions and workplace inspections on days when the head index exceeds 80 degrees F. OSHA will also create a new Heat Illness Prevention Work Group as part of its National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health.

Health and Human Services (HHS)

  • May 31, 2022: HHS announces a new Office of Environmental Justice within HHS’s Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, which will focus on developing and implementing a department-wide EJ strategy and offer EJ expertise to HHS’s Office of Civil Rights. The office will be led by Dr. Sharunda Buchanan who previously worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where she researched childhood lead poisoning.
  • April 14, 2022: HHS releases its first ever Equity Action Plan as part of its implementation of Executive Order 13985. The plan includes commitments to address maternal mortality among Black, Native American and Alaska Native women; address barriers faced by people with limited English proficiency in accessing HHS programs; incorporate equity considerations into funding opportunities; and advance civil rights enforcement, including clarifying nondiscrimination provisions to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The plan also recognizes that “HHS must simultaneously shift the culture, resources, and approaches available to HHS to institutionalize and sustain a focus on equity over time.” See a summary of HHS’s Equity Action Plan here.
  • Apr. 8, 2022: HHS requests public input on its draft outline to further the development of the 2022 Environmental Justice Strategy and Implementation Plan. The final plan will guide agency actions to addressing environmental and health disparities, including in communities disproportionately impacted by environmental burdens. Comments are due by midnight ET on May 19, 2022. Send in your comments via email to [email protected]
  • Mar. 30, 2022: The newly released Fiscal Year 2023 budget request includes $100 million for research on the human health impacts of climate change at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. THat research would include a focus on individuals and communities who are vulnerable due to factors such as “poverty, discrimination, and access to care.” $90 million would go to the Climate Change and Human Health Program at NIEHS, and $10 would be distributed to research management and support programs.
  • Nov. 1, 2021: HHS’ Administration for Children and Families is awarding over $3.3 billion through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to low-income families to help with heating costs and cost-effective energy repairs. These funds are in addition to the $4.5 billion in LIHEAP funds included in the American Rescue Plan Act. Read more about the initiative here. Individuals can apply for assistance through their local LIHEAP agency or by calling the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) hotline at 1-866-674-6327.
  • Oct. 26, 2021: HHS seeks comments from Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities and NHPI-serving organizations to guide HHS’ Center for . Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity, including identifying priority health disparity issues, community engagement practices, and culturally appropriate interventions. Submit public comments by Nov. 19, 2021 by emailing CAPT Samuel Wu at [email protected] with the subject line “OMH RFI: CIIHE NHPI”. 
  • Oct. 13, 2021: The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality publishes a request for information on how to “best use its resources to help build the healthcare system’s resilience to climate threats, reduce the healthcare industry’s contribution to climate change while increasing sustainability, and address environmental justice issues in healthcare.” Comments are due Dec. 13 and can be submitted electronically here.
  • Oct. 8, 2021: The Food and Drug administration announces its first of several anticipated public meetings to discuss the Closer to Zero action plan, which addresses exposure to toxic elements from foods consumed by babies and young children. The first meeting will cover the plan’s scope with regards to impacts of toxic elements exposure and nutrition on children at different developmental life stages. The first meeting will be on Nov. 18 from 10am-4pm ET. Click here to register for the meeting, and click here to submit comments electronically. Comments are due by Dec. 20, 2021.
  • Oct. 7, 2021: HHS releases its Climate Action Plan, including commitments to diversify its workforce and  update climate vulnerability assessments.
  • Aug. 30, 2021: In response to President Biden’s EO, HHS establishes the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (OCCHE) to address climate change and health equity. OCCHE is tasked with several specific actions including, for example, identifying communities who are disproportionately impacted, addressing health disparities by climate impacts, assisting with regulatory efforts to reduce GHG and criteria air emissions throughout the health care sector, and fostering innovation in climate adaptation and resilience for disadvantaged communities.
  • July 22, 2021: HHS begins hiring to fill two to five positions in the new Office of Climate Change and Health Equity.
  • June, 2021: The CDC launches a new Heat & Health Tracker, displaying the rate of emergency department visits associated with heat-related illness by region. The data is near real-time. The interactive map also provides a monthly forecast of expected number of days in the next month at or above dangerous heat levels.
  • Jan. 27, 2021: President Biden orders the HHS Secretary to establish an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity. The order also directs the Secretary to establish an Interagency Working Group to Decrease Risk of Climate Change to Children, the Elderly, People with Disabilities, and the Vulnerable.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

For an overview of HUD’s community investments, see the agency’s Community Assessment Reporting Tool (CART).

  • Mar. 28, 2022: The Biden administration releases its Fiscal Year 2023 Budget which makes several allocations to HUD to “advance sustainable communities, climate resilience, and environmental justice,” including:
    • $1.1 billion for climate resilience and energy efficiency improvements in public, Tribal, multifamily-assisted housing, and other assisted housing
    • $400 million to remove health hazards from homes, including lead, carbon monoxide, and radon
    • $250 million to develop and implement community-driven comprehensive neighborhood plans
    • Authorizing the Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program.
  • Mar. 24, 2022: HUD allocates almost $3 billion in Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds to state and local governments recovering from disasters, including wildfires in California and Colorado, ice storms in Texas, and damage from Hurricane Ida. HUD also allocated an additional $723 million to states recovering from 2020 disasters, including Hurricanes Sally and Zeta. The funds must be spent according to HUD’s Feb. 1 Consolidated Notice, which requires recipients to prioritize climate change mitigation and equity for underserved communities.
  • Mar. 23, 2022: The Biden administration releases an action plan to address racial and ethnic bias in home valuations. The plan comes from the Interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE), co-led by HUD, and lays out goals to combat racial and ethnic bias in home valuations, which limits the ability of Black and brown households to accumulate multigenerational wealth and achieve housing stability. The PAVE plan includes steps to strengthen guardrails against unlawful discrimination, enhance oversight and accountability of the appraisal industry, diversify the appraiser workforce, empower consumers, and develop a research agenda on appraisal bias.  
  • Mar. 22, 2022: HUD’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) releases a report finding that 31,500 of a total 200,000 mortgages provided by Federal Housing Administration (FHA) taxpayer-backed loans do not have proper flood insurance. The OIG’s report follows a report released two years ago finding that 73% of FHA-backed homes in North Carolina and Florida are in flood-prone areas. The FHA declined to respond to the OIG’s findings. 
  • March 8, 2022: HUD finds that the Texas General Land Office’s (GLO) distribution of more than $2 billion in flood mitigation funds following Hurricane Harvey violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, GLO’s allocation competition of Community Development Block Grant-Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) funds used two scoring criteria that “substantially and predictably disadvantaged minority residents, with particularly disparate outcomes for Black residents.” Last year, Houston and Harris County were initially awarded no funds out of more than $1.3 billion in federal flood relief. The civil rights complaint was filed by Texas Housers and the Northeast Action Collective. On May 16, HUD makes a formal determination that GLO violated Title VI and gives the Office 10 days to fix the recovery plan, saying GLO “may remain ineligible for discretionary funding until this matter is resolved to [HUD’s] satisfaction.”
  • Feb. 28, 2022: HUD and DOE announce the Better Climate Challenge, a voluntary, market-based platform for organizations to meet portfolio-wide greenhouse gas emissions (scope 1 and 2) reduction goals. Seven of the 80 inaugural partners are public housing or multifamily partners serving 40,000 low-and moderate-income households. The program builds on HUD’s Better Building Challenge by requesting commitments of 50 percent portfolio-wide reductions in carbon emissions over 10 years.
  • Feb. 1, 2022: HUD issues a Consolidated Notice with the requirements for how Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) grantees should spend over $2 billion, first allocated in November 2021. Click here for a list of grantees. The Notice states that grantees must conduct a needs assessment to determine if CDBG-DR funds will have an “unjustified discriminatory effect on OR failure to benefit racial and ethnic minorities in proportion to their communities’ needs,” in addition to other requirements. Grantees are also “strongly encouraged” to explain how investments will “overcome prior disinvestment in infrastructure and public services for protected groups.” 
  • Jan. 26, 2022: HUD issues a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) of $4 million through its new Radon Testing and Mitigation Demonstration Program for public housing agencies to reduce the exposure of low-income families to radon. According to the EPA, 1 in 15 US homes have elevated radon levels, and radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. HUD expects to make 15 awards from the available funds. The deadline to apply is March 28, 2022. Questions should be directed to Dr. Rhona Julien at [email protected].
  • Dec. 16, 2021: HUD awards nearly $13.2 million to state and local government agencies in California, Ohio, and Tennessee to address lead-based paint and home health hazards as part of the Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction (LBPHR) Grant Programs. The funds will target over 600 low-income housing units in Long Beach, Cleveland, and Clarksville. See HUD’s announcement for more information on the funding amounts and target homes.
  • Dec. 9, 2021: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) releases a report recommending that HUD collect, analyze, and publish demographic data from Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) grantees on aid recipients in order to better assess whether or not the funds are reaching targeted vulnerable populations. HUD neither agrees nor disagrees with the recommendation, but identifies possible ways to collect that data. 
  • Dec. 6, 2021: The same day as the first Tribal Nations Summit since 2016, the White House releases a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by 17 federal agencies, including HUD, committing to increase consultation and collaboration with Tribes in recognition of existing treaty and reserved rights. The MOU includes agency-specific commitmemts including to create a searchable treaty database, and integrate tribal treaty and reserved rights early into agency decision-making, in particular work to address the climate crisis. (See pp. 3-4 of the MOU for more).
  • Dec. 1, 2021: The US Commission on Civil Rights is investigating possible discrimination in the federal response to Hurricanes Maria and Harvey in 2017. The inquiry will assess responses led by FEMA and HUD. While the commission has no regulatory authority, the result of the investigation could prompt regulatory or legislative reforms. In June, the Commission held a virtual briefing on the issue, and in March, the Commission’s Texas Advisory Committee submitted a report describing how the federal government’s response to Harvey exacerbated racial and ethnic disparities in wealth, income, and housing. 
  • Nov. 17, 2021: HUD releases its Climate Action Plan recognizing climate change’s disparate impacts on low-income families and communities of color and announcing three goals designed to mitigate those impacts. The third goal, environmental justice, is supported by proposals to promote climate justice in tribal communities, encourage equitable community engagement, create green jobs, and reduce exposure to lead poisoning and radon.
  • Nov. 1, 2021: HUD allocates over $2 billion in disaster recovery and mitigation funds (as part of the CDBG-DR and CDBG-MIT programs) to 10 states recovering from the 2020 disasters. HUD states that the funds will go towards projects “with a specific focus on low- and moderate-income populations” for disaster relief and long-term recovery “in the most impacted and distressed areas.”
  • Sep. 13, 2021: National Public Radio finds that HUD sells homes in flood-prone places at 75 times the rate of homes sold nationwide, and does not disclose flood risks to buyers in its home listings. This trend disproportionately exposes low-income homeowners to flood risks. 
  • June 25, 2021: HUD publishes a proposed rule recodifying the 2013 “Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Discriminatory Effects Standard” rule.
  • June 18, 2021: The Biden administration convenes a HUD-led interagency task force to review the home appraisal process and recommend regulatory and legislative steps to reduce racial disparities, including “conducting rulemaking to aggressively combat housing discrimination.”
  • June 10, 2021: HUD issues an interim final rule reinstating the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which Trump repealed. The rule allows HUD to suspend housing grants to municipalities that do not actively combat housing discrimination.

 

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

For more on FERC and other issues related to the electricity sector,  visit EELP’s Electricity Law Initiative.

  • June 1, 2022: Montina Cole, FERC’s Senior Counsel for Environmental Justice and Equity, says the commission will weigh “cumulative impacts and health impact assessments and impact mitigation measures” around natural gas projects. Cole also says FERC will be building its capacity to engage tribal governments; the commission currently employees only one tribal liaison to engage with 574 tribal nations. 
  • April 15, 2022: FERC issues its first ever Equity Action Plan as part of its implementation of Executive Order 13985. The two-year plan focuses on five areas: build the Office of Public Participation, strengthen Tribal government consultation and engagement, ensure natural gas project certification and siting policies are consistent with EJ, ensuring hydropower licensing processes are consistent with EJ, and strength FERC staff’s capacity to understand and promote equity as part of FERC’s mission.
  • March 29, 2022: FERC issues its Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2022-2026. The plan includes prioritizing improved accessibility and participation in FERC proceedings, especially with Tribal governments, and integrating environmental justice and equity considerations into Commission processes and decision making. 
  • March 28, 2022: The director of FERC’s Office of Public Participation, Elin Katz, says the office is exploring options to compensate members of the public for legal fees and other costs associated with participation if doing so creates a hardship for them.
  • March 25, 2022: FERC issues a unanimous decision withdrawing the policy brief issued on Feb. 17 and reverting back to the agency’s prior method for reviewing natural gas pipeline applications. The new policy would have required FERC to consider environmental interests and the interests of environmental justice populations and surrounding populations. FERC Chair Richard Glick says the new guidelines “could benefit from further clarification.” The agency will accept comments on the policy drafts until April 25.  
  • Feb. 18, 2022: FERC announces the appointment of Nicole Sitaraman as deputy director for the Office of Public Participation. Sitaraman previously worked as vice president of external affairs and policy at a DC-based consulting firm.
  • Feb. 17, 2022: FERC announces new policy that will guide its reviews of new natural gas infrastructure development. The Commission will now consider a proposed project’s effect on climate change and a wider set of impacts on landowners and environmental justice communities. FERC will also now assess the economic need for a project beyond whether one or more shippers have committed to buying the gas.FERC also sets, for the first time, a greenhouse gas emission threshold to determine whether it automatically prepares an environmental impact statement (EIS). For proposed interstate pipelines, FERC will consider the project’s construction and operational emissions and may also consider downstream and upstream emissions. For proposed liquefied natural gas terminals, FERC will consider only its construction and operational emissions. For all projects, FERC considers emissions of 100,000 metric tons per year to be significant and therefore trigger a full EIS.
  • Nov. 16, 2021: The Senate confirms Willie Phillips Jr. to fill the open seat on FERC.
  • Oct. 28, 2021: FERC Chair Richard Glick states that the need for expediency in expanding the grid should not come at the expense of sidelining input from historically marginalized communities. FERC is committed to preventing new transmission projects from exacerbating environmental justice issues and is considering implementing new rules to govern the planning process.
  • Oct. 21, 2021: FERC authorizes two liquefied natural gas facilities, Corpus Christi Liquefaction in Texas and Sabine Pass Liquefaction in Louisiana, to increase their LNG production capacity. FERC states that this increased production capacity will not increase criteria pollutant or greenhouse gas emissions above previously analyzed levels. The Sierra Club criticized FERC’s decision, stating that this assessment disregards the impact that increased production capacity will have on impacted communities along the Gulf Coast and ignores the damage that existing facilities have already caused. 
  • Oct. 12, 2021: FERC announces the appointment of Elin Katz as director of the agency’s new Office of Public Participation. The Office was created to increase accessibility to FERC’s proceedings and to ensure meaningful participation from a more diverse range of people.
  • Sep. 9, 2021: President Biden announces his intent to nominate Willie Phillips Jr., a Washington utility regulator, to fill the remaining open seat at FERC. If approved by the Senate, the majority of members on FERC will be Democratic appointees. Phillips Jr. was nominated over the objections of many advocates, including over 490 environmental, tribal, and community-based organizations that had previously sent President Biden a letter naming three preferred nominees committed to environmental and energy justice. 
  • June 24, 2021: FERC announces its first steps in establishing an Office of Public Participation (OPP), which Congress first authorized in 1978. These steps include hiring a director, deputy director, and administrative staff member by the end of FY 2021. The office should be fully operational by the end of FY 2024. See FERC’s full report on establishing the OPP here.
  • May 20, 2021: FERC announces the appointment of Montina Cole as its first senior counsel for environmental justice and equity.
  • February 16: FERC Chair Richard Glick announces a new senior position to focus on environmental justice and equity issues and ensure such concerns are given full consideration.