White House tackles environmental racism, but doesn’t mention race

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Two months before winning the presidency in 2020 and after a summer in which the country was rocked by a series of racial justice protests, Mr Biden promised he would work to rectify the extraordinary burden of pollution borne by communities of color. Every American has a basic right to a healthy environment, he said.

“Fulfilling this fundamental obligation to all Americans — especially in low-income, white, black, brown, and Native American communities, which too often lack clean air and clean water — is not going to be easy” , Mr. Biden said outside. the Delaware Museum of Natural History in Wilmington.

“The relentless impact of climate change affects all of us,” he said. “But too often the burden falls disproportionately on communities of color, exacerbating the need for environmental justice.”

Once in office, he created a White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, the first of its kind, and called on all federal agencies to ensure disadvantaged communities receive 40% of the benefits of federal investment. in air and water quality, flood prevention. , cleanup of Superfund sites, renewable energy and other improvements.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael. S. Regan, visited largely black and other communities of color in the South on a “Journey to Justice” tour, and promised more inspections and enforcement of environmental laws in communities affected by polluting industries.

But the practicalities of righting historic wrongs — racist zoning and housing policies that located polluting industries and highways in communities of color — have not been easy.

Mr Biden’s top environmental justice adviser, Cecilia Martinez, resigned last month, saying she felt “burnt out” after years of working to make the issue a top government priority. The Justice40 screening tool is behind schedule, and some advocates fear the effort is losing momentum.


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