The U.S. Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it is taking a “series of actions to secure environmental justice for all Americans.” Among the new initiatives is the formation of a new office that will enforce increased environmental regulations and help with combatting the “climate crisis”, according to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Since taking office, President Biden has launched the “Justice40” initiative, which aims to provide 40% of the benefits of government climate and clean energy investments to “historically disadvantaged communities.”
On Thursday, Garland said the department will prioritize cases that create the greatest impact on communities “most overburdened by environmental harm.”
“Although violations of our environmental laws can happen anywhere, communities of color, indigenous communities, and low-income communities often bear the brunt of the harm caused by environmental crime, pollution, and climate change,” Garland said.
The new Office of Environmental Justice will “serve as the central hub for our efforts to advance our comprehensive environmental justice enforcement strategy,” the AG continued.
Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta issued a “comprehensive environmental justice enforcement strategy” to guide the department, as well as U.S. attorneys nationwide, on the new policies and standards.
Garland tapped Cynthia Ferguson, who works in the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, to serve as executive director of the new office.
According to The Hill, the Office of Environmental Justice will work with “communities that have been the victims of environmental crimes and requires all 93 U.S. attorneys across the country to designate an environmental justice coordinator to find ‘areas of concern’ in their communities.”