Yesterday President Biden signed an executive order to further embed environmental justice into the work of federal agencies, bring clean energy and healthy environments to all, and recognize, undo, and mitigate harm to those who have suffered from toxic pollution and other environmental burdens like climate change.
During his first week in office, President Biden launched the most ambitious environmental justice agenda in our nation’s history. This action will continue delivering on that vision by helping to ensure that all people can benefit from clean air, clean water, better health, access to green space, safe and affordable housing, and clean transportation.
Throughout Earth Week, President Biden, Vice President Harris and other Cabinet-level officials are holding events and announcing commitments focused on how the President’s Investing in America agenda is powering an American manufacturing and clean energy boom, lowering prices, creating good-paying jobs in clean energy industries, meeting our climate goals, and advancing environmental justice and conservation. 
Leaders from across the country praised the President’s Environmental Justice Executive Order. Here’s what they’re saying:
Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, Ranking Member, House Natural Resources Committee, Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and California Congresswoman Barbara Lee: “There is nothing more fundamental to our health and wellbeing than the right to air that is safe to breathe and water that is safe to drink. Yet, polluting industries have made a business out of purposely ignoring these rights and dumping their dirtiest messes on the communities whose voices they assumed would be ignored—poor communities, communities of color, and Indigenous communities. And shamefully, for decades, those assumptions were right. Today, the Biden administration is telling the millions of Americans living in environmental justice communities that they are finally being heard and heeded. The Executive Order mirrors many key priorities from our A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act, which is the result of years of listening to and working directly with communities to draft the federal policy changes they need to realize their rights. We commend the Biden administration for taking historic action on their commitment to environmental justice with this Executive Order. As federal agencies move forward with putting these policies into place, we encourage them to continue working closely with the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and environmental justice communities to ensure that its implementation lives up to its promise. Here in Congress, we will keep working to advance the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act into law, so these promises can be kept for good.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
California Congressman Jared Huffman: “.@POTUS announced a new Executive Order that will deepen our country’s commitment to environmental justice. For too long, our most vulnerable communities have suffered disproportionate environmental harms. This EO will help ensure everyone lives in a safe & healthy environment.” [Tweet, 4/21/23]
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley: “The executive order @POTUS signed is a step toward addressing historical environmental injustices and inequities and protecting our health and planet. Good to see the @WhiteHouse clearly recognize plastic pollution as an environmental justice issue.” [Tweet, 4/21/23]
Richard Moore, Co-Chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and Co-Coordinator of Los Jardines Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico: “Today is an historic day in our larger movement for justice, started by our elders and ancestors many years ago. Since his first day in office, President Biden committed to listening and learning from the expertise and perspectives of environmental justice, grassroots communities to update the Clinton Executive Order. With this Executive Order, he is making good on that promise and answering a decades-long call to put environmental justice at the heart of federal policy. I am pleased that the recommendations of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council are central to this Executive Order. There is more work that must be done together, but today is a day to remember.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Peggy Shepard, Co-Chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and Co-Founder and Executive Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice: “The Biden Administration has issued an update of Executive Order 12898, adding to the President’s landmark work to create the Justice40 Initiative, the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council, and the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC). Today, the foundation of the government’s environmental justice work has been updated to respond to recommendations made by the WHEJAC to further advance environmental and climate justice throughout the federal government. This is an important action as we begin to see real investment in frontline communities.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Catherine Coleman Flowers, Vice Chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and Founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice: “President Biden has demonstrated time and again his commitment to environmental justice. From the early days of the campaign when he sought solutions directly from community leaders, to the creation of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, to today’s announcement, the President and his Administration are bringing the voices of communities into federal policy-making. I’m honored to be working alongside these leaders in this fight for justice and a healthy future for children.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Dr. Beverly Wright, Member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and Founder & Executive Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice: “This executive order is a promise made and a promise kept by the Biden Administration. I was a part of the team that worked on the original executive order signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Although it was an historic step in the right direction, it lacked accountability measures to ensure its efficacy. This new order strengthens the 1994 executive order by operationalizing and institutionalizing the recommendation within every level of the federal government. And to ensure accountability, each agency will report all progress made directly to the President. But, while today’s executive order is historic, much work must be done to achieve true environmental justice.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Dr. Robert Bullard, Member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and Director of the Bullard Center for Environmental & Climate Justice: “A BIG DEAL! Biden to Create White House Office of Environmental Justice” [Tweet, 4/21/23]
Tom Cormons, Member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and Executive Director of Appalachian Voices in Charlottesville, Virginia: “President Biden’s executive order today is a big step forward for real, practical action to address the profound environmental injustices affecting the health and well-being of millions of Americans every day, in every corner of the country. Together with the President and Vice President’s commitment and vision, the absolutely tireless, sustained hard work of generations of community activists and justice leaders, my colleagues on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and the public servants at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, we have reached this milestone. A lot more of this same resolve will be needed to implement the EO, so some of the most important work has just begun.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Michele Roberts, Member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and National Co-Coordinator, Environmental Justice Health Alliance: “The President’s Executive Order is an historic announcement and action. We are excited to know that President Biden is honoring his commitment to center environmental justice throughout the entire federal family. Our communities are equipped with their own solutions and are ready to work together with their local governments to advance the remedy and redress they need.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Maria Lopez-Nuñez, Member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and Deputy Director, Organizing and Advocacy for Ironbound Community Corporation: “From the technical assistance centers and urban forestry grants announced last week to the new Executive Order, the Biden Administration is on a roll. President Biden is showing the country – and the world – that as we deal with climate change, we have to prioritize those who have been most impacted.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Dr. Kyle Whyte, Member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council Executive Order Workgroup, Professor at the University of Michigan, and U.S. Science Envoy: “President Biden’s Executive Order creates a powerful new tool that speaks to the many important dimensions of how government and communities can work together to achieve environmental justice that have not previously been given this much due. It reflects the wisdom of generations of environmental justice advocates – and the recent hard work of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Jade Begay, NDN Collective’s Director of Policy and Advocacy (Tesuque Pueblo) and Member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council: “This action from the Biden Administration signals that our guidance and feedback, informed by our lived experience as environmental justice and Tribal community members, is not only being heard but is being implemented in the ways we need. As we face blatant attacks on the laws and policies that have protected our communities for decades, it is relieving and emboldening to see the Biden Administration double down on their commitment to continue to undo the environmental equities that tribal communities have shouldered for generations. While implementing this EO will be exciting and challenging, all those who work or have worked to advance Environmental Justice should acknowledge this win and celebrate our hard work. I look forward to working with the Administration to ensure that Indigenous communities and Tribes are informed and engaged on these new and updated commitments and initiatives, especially when it comes to advancing Tribal Sovereignty and Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
LaTricea D. Adams, MAT, Eds, Founder CEO & President, Black Millennials 4 Flint and Member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council: “Hazel Johnson, Wilma Mankiller, Dana Alston, Congressman Don McEachin… today was a day we wish all the environmental justice warriors could see. This momentous occasion with the signing of the Executive Order on  Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All is a reflection of the work of our ancestors and elders, and a signal to the next generation of EJ leaders to continue the fight until environmental justice is truly achieved for all.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Angelo Logan, Member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and Senior Director, Environmental and Climate Justice at The Liberty Hill Foundation: “I applaud President Biden and his administration at this monumental moment for signing and putting into action the Environmental Justice Executive Order. This Executive Order makes it clear that much more needs to be done to lift the burdens off and protect EJ communities. This Executive Order directs the highest levels of government to institutionalize Environmental Justice giving government and EJ communities the tools to tackle the onslaught of environmental burdens we have been contending with for decades. I look forward to working with the administration and all of government to implement this order and hold all levels of the administration account to the principles and statements within this order.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Reverend Leo M. Woodberry, Pastor of Kingdom Living Temple Church and Executive Director of New Alpha Community Development Corporation, in Florence, South Carolina: “President Biden’s Executive Order is yet another historical first on environmental justice and a much-needed remedy for the citizens of this great nation. As climate impacts grow on a daily basis, it must be matched by greater efforts to keep our world, people, and nature safe, resilient, and sustainable.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Dr. Nicky Sheats, New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance, Kean University: “The cumulative pollution burdens that EJ communities continue to face will demand that we implement federal, state, and local policies that can protect EJ communities now and into the future. This new Executive Order on Environmental Justice ensures that the federal government goes further than it ever has on delivering the protections and investments our communities need.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Dr. Ana Baptista, ICC & NJEJA Trustee, Tishman Environment and Design Center, The New School: “The Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to centering their environmental and climate agenda on environmental justice communities is reflected in today’s signing of the new Executive Order on Environmental Justice and the launch of the EJ Scorecard. EJ communities around the country can now track the federal government’s progress on the historic investments in EJ and look forward to new commitments by federal agencies to implement cumulative impact policies.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Felipe Benitez, Executive Director and Founder, Corazón Latino: “Today, we celebrate a groundbreaking victory for families and communities that have long suffered the consequences of environmental injustice. President Biden’s executive order sends a clear message that our voices have been heard and that change is on the horizon.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Dana Johnson, Senior Director of Strategy and Federal Policy, WE ACT for Environmental Justice: “Today’s historic announcement addresses what WE ACT has been fighting for 35 years: environmental justice is central to civil rights and environmental laws. The administration is implementing meaningful change to support the message we’ve known for decades: harmful pollution disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color, among other vulnerable communities. The updated Executive Order, building on the original Executive Order 12898 issued by President Clinton in 1994, will further embed environmental justice work in federal agencies to achieve real, measurable progress that low-income and communities of color can depend on.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Mark Magaña, Founding President & CEO Green Latinos; “Today’s new Executive Order from the President is another step toward achieving environmental liberation for all Latino/a/e, Black, Indigenous, Asian, and other low-income communities of color facing the climate emergency’s disproportionate impacts. By addressing historically marginalized communities’ needs, we prioritize those facing the worst of this crisis. This new executive order acknowledges the problematic history of this country’s redlining legacy. It highlights how communities of color are the least responsible yet the most impacted regarding deadly air pollution, inequitable water access, poor access to public lands, and access to affordable clean energy. We look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration to continue fighting for our communities who deserve the right to access clean air, clean water, nature, and clean and affordable renewable energy.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Yadira Sanchez, Executive Director, Poder LatinX: “Nearly 10 percent of Latinx children suffer from asthma, and they are 40 percent more likely to die from asthma than non-Latino whites. Our communities are being exposed to horrific amounts of pollution and living with the impacts for the rest of their lives. President Biden’s executive order will direct federal agencies to study the environmental impacts that the Latinx community is facing every day, such as the development of respiratory illnesses such as asthma due to pollution and exposure to other toxic materials. This research will aid the administration in creating policies that keep our families safe from pollution and toxic waste and help guide resources to communities in need. As a child, I experienced lead contamination through my community’s water reserve and continue to feel the impacts of that exposure to this day. I can say firsthand that Latinx communities across this country will benefit from this effort. Poder Latinx commends President Biden’s efforts toward building the most ambitious environmental justice agenda in our nation’s history.” [Statement, 4/21/23]
Rosalinda Guillen, Co-Chair, Front and Centered Community Council in Seattle, Washington: “Decades of community organizing in environmental justice communities have resulted in the progress we see today as evidenced by this executive order. Ultimately, it is frontline communities who will hold state policymakers and agencies accountable. Washington State was ahead of the nation in developing the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act, a whole of government approach to Environmental Justice envisioned and championed by our community of color coalition Front and Centered. Now President Biden is aiming to follow suit by embedding environmental justice considerations into future agency planning and development. The White House is taking these efforts a step further by recognizing all agencies need to be involved in and creating an Environmental Justice Scorecard to track what federal agencies are doing to advance environmental justice across the country. This scorecard represents a useful accountability measure that our state should adopt, since frontline communities too often have to fill in where state government fails to deliver.” [Statement. 4/21/23]
Climate Justice Alliance: “Environmental justice advocates were set for a hard-fought win Friday as President Joe Biden readied an executive order tightening oversight of pollution with an eye toward safeguarding public health.” [Tweet, 4/21/23]
Equitable & Just National Climate Platform: “@POTUS’s #EnvironmentalJustice EO today accelerates three of our goals: beefing up protections for communities overburdened by pollution; making it easier for communities to have a say in federal decisions; & fed agencies that aim to center EJ concerns.” [Tweet, 4/21/23]
Justice 40rward: “Today, @potus plans to sign an executive order making environmental justice a focus of every federal agency & requiring them to develop plans to address the harms caused by a long history of environmental racism.”  [Tweet, 4/21/23]
Kate Johnson, C40 Cities: “I was honored to represent @c40cities as @POTUS signed an executive order on environmental justice today. Justice is at core of so much of our cities’ work to tackle the climate crisis, including Houston whose solar energy work was acknowledged by President Biden.” [Tweet, 4/21/23]
Children’s Environmental Health Network: “Every child, every family, every person has a right to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live in a healthy community! @POTUS’s Executive Order to Revitalize Our Nation’s Commitment to #EnvironmentalJustice is on the right track!” [Tweet, 4/21/23]
Voto Latino: “President Biden signed an Executive Order making environmental justice a focus of every federal agency. 81% of US Latinos consider addressing climate change a priority. A majority say that environmental issues impact their local communities.” [Tweet, 4/21/23]


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