Environmental Justice Priorities 

These policies have, in our view, the potential for meaningful environmental or social justice benefits, although we do not quantify that potential, or rank the policies relative to each other. Criteria for inclusion on this list are: whether the policy explicitly addresses environmental inequity; has a nexus to tribal nations; concerns air pollution, water pollution, or pesticides, which disproportionately burden minority and farmworker communities; arguably touches low-income communities regardless of race, or a labor constituency; or relates to enforcement, since underenforcement disproportionately affects minority communities. The first part of the list includes policies that explicitly address environmental justice; the second part includes policies that will have a heightened impact on environmental justice populations including communities of color, Indigenous communities, people with limited English proficiency, and low-income communities. Policies are sorted by agency. 

President-elect Biden prioritized environmental justice[1] in his campaign, promising to reinvigorate Executive Order 12898, establish an Environmental and Climate Justice Division within DOJ, and overhaul EPA’s External Civil Rights Compliance Office (ECRCO), which is responsible for ensuring recipients of EPA funding comply with Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. These plans signal a reinvestment in EJ efforts at EPA, counteracting President Trump’s disinvestment in EJ programming, especially the Office of Environmental Justice and its community grants programA Biden EPA will also be able to build on the tools and technical guidance developed under President Obama to streamline EJ assessment across all federal agencies.[2]

Environmental Justice Policies 

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

Office of the Administrator 

  • Governance: Issue Agency-Wide Memo to Incorporate EJ into All EPA Decisions
  • Governance: Strengthen EPAs Tribal Consultation Policy 
  • Governance: Initiate Trainings on Diversity and Systemic Racism at HQ and Regional Offices 

Office of the General Counsel: External Civil Rights Compliance Office (ECRCO) 

  • Enforcement: Update and Implement Guidance on Considering EJ During the Development of Regulatory Actions 
  • Enforcement: Update and Implement ECRCO Strategic Plan at HQ and Regional Offices 
  • Enforcement: Initiate ECRCO Rulemaking on Investigating Title VI Complaints 
  • Enforcement: Complete and Enforce ECRCO Compliance Toolkit at HQ and Regional Offices 

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) 

  • Governance: Revise and Expand Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice in Consultation with EJ Communities 
  • Governance: Revise and Reissue Executive Order 13754 in Consultation with Alaska Native Tribes 
  • Governance: Develop Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool in Consultation with EJ Communities 
  • Governance: Establish White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council 
  • Governance: Establish White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council  

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE 

Office of the Attorney General 

  • Enforcement: Establish Environmental and Climate Justice Division 

Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) 

  • Enforcement: Revisit Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) in Civil Settlements 

Office of the Associate Attorney General 

  • Enforcement: Implement Environmental Justice Act of 2019 (Proposed)  
  • Enforcement: Revisit Limiting Use of Agency Guidance Documents in Affirmative Civil Enforcement Cases 

Policies with a Heightened Impact on EJ Populations 

ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS (ACE)

  • Pipelines: Revisit Permit for Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) 
  • Pipelines: Revisit Nationwide Permit 12 Regarding Keystone XL Pipeline 
  • Biodiversity: Revisit Bristol Bay Pebble Mine 

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

Air and Radiation 

  • Methane / VOCs: Revisit Oil and Gas Sector Standards for New & Existing Sources 
  • Air Quality: Revisit Cross State Air Pollution Rule 
  • Air Quality: Revisit Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) Once In, Always In Guidance
  • Air Quality: Accelerate Review of NAAQS for Ozone 
  • Air Quality: Acclerate Review of NAAQS for PM 
  • Air Quality: Revisit NESHAPS for Brick and Clay Products 
  • Air Quality: Revisit NESHAPS Petroleum Refinery Sector Rule 
  • Air Quality: Revisit NSPS Petroleum Refinery Sector Rule 
  • Air Quality: Revisit NSR Consideration of Emissions Decreases at Step 1 
  • Air Quality: Revisit NSR Project Aggregation at Step 1 
  • Air Quality: Revisit Regional Haze Program 
  • Power Sector: Revisit Region 4 and 6 Findings on Startup, Shutdown, and Malfunction (SSM)
  • Power Sector: Revisit Startup, Shutdown, and Malfunctions (SSM) Rule 
  • Vehicles: Revisit California CAA Waiver, CAFE Standards / GHG Tailpipe Standards 
  • Vehicles: Strengthen CAFE Standards / GHG Tailpipe Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles
  • Vehicles: Strengthen CAFE Standards / GHG Tailpipe Standards for Light Duty Vehicles 
  • Water Quality: Revisit Uranium Extraction Water Quality Standards   
  • Chemicals & Pesticides: Revisit Risk Management Program, Chemical Disaster Rule
  • Enforcement – NSR: Revisit Enforceability and Use of Actual-to-Projected-Actual Applicability Test in Determining Applicability
  • GHG Emissions: Regulate New and Existing Sources of Municipal Solid Waste 
  • Vehicles: Strengthen Nitrogen Oxide Standards for Heavy-Duty Vehicles 
  • Air Quality: Revisit Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) Appropriate and Necessary Finding and Risk & Technology Review
  • Air Quality: Revisit Publicly Owned Treatment Works HAP Standards 

Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (CSPP) 

  • Chemicals & Pesticides: Take a Science-Based Approach to Chlorpyrifos Regulation 
  • Chemicals & Pesticides: Take a Science-Based Approach to Dicamba Regulation 
  • Chemicals & Pesticides: Revisit Agricultural Worker Protection Standard 
  • Toxic Chemicals: Use TSCA §4 and §8 to Collect Missing Industry Data  
  • Toxic Chemicals: Revisit TSCA §6 and §7 Actions for Immediate Health Risks 
  • Toxic Chemicals: Revisit TSCA Chemical Risk Evaluations
  • Chemicals & Pesticides: Revisit Certification of Pesticide Applicators Rule 
  • Chemicals & Pesticides: Accelerate Use of Bilingual Pesticide Labeling 
  • Chemicals & Pesticides: Accelerate Re-evaluation of Pesticides to Meet 2022 Deadline 

Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) 

  • Enforcement: Revisit Best Practices for Compliance and Enforcement-Related Information Requests 
  • Enforcement: Increase PFAS-related Actions under TSCA, CWA, and CERCLA 

Office of International & Tribal Affairs 

  • Paris Climate Accord: Prepare NDC Analysis 

Office of Land and Emergency Management 

  • Chemicals & Pesticides: Expedite Listing of PFOS/PFAS as CERCLA Hazardous Substances 
  • Coal Waste: Coal Ash RCRA Rulemaking  
  • Enforcement: Expand Superfund Sites with Viable PRPs and EJ-Iimplications – Expand 
  • Air Quality: Revisit EPCRA Air Release Reporting for CAFOs 

Office of Water 

  • Drinking Water Standards: Establish Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for Perchlorate 
  • Drinking Water Standards: Establish Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for PFAS  
  • Drinking Water Standards: Establish Nationwide, Science-Based System of Water Quality Monitoring 
  • Drinking Water Standards: Update and Improve Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS)
  • Drinking Water Standards: Strengthen Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for Lead and Copper 
  • Water Quality: Revisit Cooling Water Intake Rules for Power Sector (Clean Water Act §316(b)) 
  • Water Quality: Establish Non-Point Source Pollution – Task Force with State, Tribal, and Local Leaders
  • Water Quality: Revisit Nonpoint Source Pollution TMDLs for Chesapeake Bay 
  • Water Quality: Establish PFAS as Toxic Pollutant Under the CWA 
  • Water Quality: Revisit Section 401 Water Quality Certification 
  • Coal Waste: Revisit Power Plant Effluent Limits under CWA 

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT

Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) 

  • Environmental Studies: Restore NEPA Review Process
  • Environmental Studies: Strengthen Social Cost of Carbon Calculations Across Government 

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR 

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) 

  • Coal Production: Revisit Federal Coal Leasing Moratorium
  • Keystone XL Pipeline: Revisit Right of Way Grant
  • National Parks and Monuments: Protect Bears Ears, Utah 
  • National Parks and Monuments: Protect Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah 
  • ANWR: Revisit Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program 
  • Methane: Implement Waste Prevention Rule (Federal Lands)  
  • Oil & Gas: Limit New Permitting on Public Lands 
  • Public Lands: Revisit National Petroleum Reserve Oil and Gas Development 

Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) 

  • Izembek National Wildlife Refuge: Revisit Road Construction in  
  • Commercial Fishing in Marine Sanctuaries: Revisit Pacific Remote Islands, Pacific Ocean
  • Commercial Fishing in Marine Sanctuaries: Revisit Rose Atoll, Pacific Ocean 
  • Biodiversity: Revisit Migratory Bird Treaty Act Enforcement 
  • Mining: Revisit Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement 
  • Water Quality: Revisit Stream Protection Rule  

National Park Service 

  • National Parks and Monuments: Revisit Directors Order 100  

DEPARTMENT OF STATE

Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs 

  • Keystone XL Pipeline: Revisit Cross-Border Permit

Office of Global Change 

  • Paris Climate Accord: Rejoin Agreement 

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION 

National Highway Taffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 

  • Vehicles: Strengthen Penalties for Violations of CAFE Standards for Light Duty Vehicles 

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service 

  • Forests: Revisit Alaska Roadless Rule

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY

  • Governance: Issue Secretarial Order on Climate Change and Rural Investment 

RISK MANAGEMENT AGENCY 

  • Agriculture: Incentivize Climate-Smart Agriculture Practices (e.g., crop insurance rates) 

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 

  • Establish Office of Climate Change and Health Equity 

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY 

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 

  • Resilience: Initiatie Rulemaking to Designate AuthoritiesProcedures for Planned Community Relocation 
  • Resilience: Revisit National Flood Insurance Program
  • Resilience: Revisit Rulemaking to Broadly Define “Resilience” Under DRRA

 

[1] Environmental justice (EJ) addresses the persistent inequitable distribution of pollution and other environmental burdens on low-income communities and communities of color. These disparate impacts reflect a legacy of siting more polluting and hazardous waste facilities in these communities than in wealthier, predominantly white communities. These impacts are and will continue to be exacerbated by new threats, including climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to ensuring the equitable enforcement of air and water quality standards, EPA must reinvest in existing EJ programs, including the Interagency Working Group and National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), while expanding its public participation, monitoring, and enforcement capabilities. 

[2] For a closer look at how EPA engages in EJ work, see our Mission Tracker page.