On September 24, EPA announced the establishment of a new national office charged with advancing environmental justice, enforcing civil rights, and delivering new grants and technical assistance. The new office merges three existing programs at EPA: the Office of Environmental Justice, External Civil Rights Compliance Office, and Conflict Prevention and Resolution Center.
The new office will include more than 200 EPA staff in EPA headquarters and across the ten regions. The dedicated staff will engage with communities, Tribal, state, and local partners and manage and disburse historic levels of grants and technical assistance. The new office will oversee the implementation and delivery of a $3 billion climate and environmental justice block grant program created by the Inflation Reduction Act, a critical component of the law’s historic $60 billion investment in environmental justice. The office also will ensure EPA’s implementation of other funding programs provided by the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and regular appropriations meet or exceed the President’s Justice40 Initiative.
The new office staff will also work with other EPA offices to incorporate environmental justice into the agency’s programs, policies, and processes and ensure EPA funding recipients comply with applicable civil rights laws. The office will be led by a U.S. Senate-confirmed Assistant Administrator, to be nominated at a later date.
This is the latest action under the Biden Administration’s efforts to integrate environmental justice, civil rights, and equity across the government that AMWA has been tracking for members. Other actions have included the establishment of the first-ever White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC), the launch of the Justice40 Initiative, which aims to provide 40 percent of the overall benefits of federal investments relating to climate change to disadvantaged communities.