Good morning!

I am pleased to be part of this discussion on ensuring that all communities and workers benefit from our actions to address climate change. President Biden’s approach to environmental justice is guided by a couple of his core beliefs:

First, that every single person has a fundamental right to drink clean water, and to breathe clean air. 

And second, that for too many people, we have failed to deliver those basic protections. 

This is true here in the United States, but we know that it is also true in many other parts of the world. 

Correcting these historic wrongs is not going to be easy and it requires a long-term commitment, but acknowledging a need for change is a critical first step.

I was confirmed by the U.S. Senate just last week as the newest Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, but I’ve immediately gotten to work, joining the rest of the President’s team that has made environmental justice an everyday focus over the three months since his Inauguration. 

There are three ways that I’m going to work every day to help the President achieve his environmental justice goals:

First, I chair the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council.  This cabinet-level group exists to make sure that the entirety of our federal government is working to address injustice in frontline and fenceline communities and make a positive difference in the lives of everyday people. 

Second, I’m thrilled that the first-ever White House Senior Director for Environmental Justice is part of our team at CEQ and know we’ll achieve great things together.

And third, the newly-formed White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council brings together twenty-six national environmental justice leaders from across the country to advise CEQ and the Interagency Council on what steps we need to take to get this right. I look forward to receiving the recommendations. 

My friend Peggy Shepard is a nationally-recognized leader who has devoted her life to advancing environmental equity. She is the founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice in Harlem, New York, has graciously agreed to Co-Chair the Advisory Council, and is joining us here this morning. 

It is my pleasure and honor to present Peggy Shepard to you.  Thank you. 

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