Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday that the Justice Department is opening a new office aimed at addressing the department’s environmental justice efforts.
Low-income communities and communities of color face larger risks from pollution and the impacts of the climate crisis, scientists and health experts have reported. More than 40% of Americans live in areas with unhealthy air quality, according to the American Lung Association, and people of color are the most harmed by it.
The DOJ’s Office of Environmental Justice is part of the Biden administration’s strategy to prioritize environmental justice — specifically as it relates to the climate crisis — after the issue was largely ignored during the Trump administration.
Garland said the OEJ “will serve as the central hub for our efforts to advance our comprehensive environmental justice enforcement strategy,” with the office working alongside a number of other intradepartmental agencies, including the Civil Rights Division and United States Attorneys’ offices, to “prioritize meaningful and constructive engagement with the communities most affected by environmental crime and injustice.”