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“We’ll create good jobs for millions of Americans…and we’ll do it all to withstand the devastating effects of climate change and promote environmental justice.”President Joe Biden, 2022 State of the Union
What is the Justice40 Initiative?
For the first time in our nation’s history, the Federal Government has made it a goal that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution. President Biden made this historic commitment when he signed Executive Order 14008 within days of taking office.
What kinds of investments fall within the Justice40 Initiative? The categories of investment are: climate change, clean energy and energy efficiency, clean transit, affordable and sustainable housing, training and workforce development, remediation and reduction of legacy pollution, and the development of critical clean water and wastewater infrastructure.
How is the Administration implementing the Justice40 Initiative? A national commitment to environmental justice of this magnitude has never been made before. To meet the goal of the Justice40 Initiative, the Administration is transforming hundreds of Federal programs across the government to ensure that disadvantaged communities receive the benefits of new and existing Federal investments in these categories. Through the President’s Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the American Rescue Plan, Federal agencies are making historic levels of investment to advance environmental justice. This investment will help confront decades of underinvestment in disadvantaged communities, and bring critical resources to communities that have been overburdened by legacy pollution and environmental hazards.
What type of direction has the White House provided to Federal agencies to achieve the goals of Justice40 Initiative?
The task of delivering the benefits of hundreds of Federal programs to communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution requires fundamental and sweeping reforms to the very way in which the Federal Government as a whole operates. Last year, the White House issued formal Interim Implementation Guidance directing all Federal agencies to identify and begin transforming their programs covered under the Justice40 Initiative – which agencies are currently implementing. Here are some key topics addressed in the formal guidance:
What is a covered Justice40 investment? Covered Federal investments include any grant or procurement spending, financing, staffing costs, or direct spending or benefits to individuals for a covered program in a Justice40 category.
What is a Justice40 covered program? A “covered program” is a Federal Government program that falls in the scope of the Justice40 initiative because it includes investments that can benefit disadvantaged communities across one or more of the following seven areas: climate change, clean energy and energy efficiency, clean transit, affordable and sustainable housing, training and workforce development, remediation and reduction of legacy pollution, and the development of critical clean water and wastewater infrastructure. Existing and new programs created by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the American Rescue Plan that make investments in any of these categories can also be considered Justice40 covered programs.
All Justice40 covered programs are required to engage in stakeholder consultation and ensure that community stakeholders are meaningfully involved in determining program benefits. Covered programs are also required to report data on the benefits directed to disadvantaged communities.
The list of Justice40 covered programs are being released in groups of agencies over the coming weeks. Agencies that have released their covered programs include:
- Army Corps of Engineers
- Corporation for National and Community Service / AmeriCorps
- Department of Agriculture
- Department of Energy
- Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency
- Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Department of the Interior
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Labor
- Department of Transportation
- Department of Veteran Affairs
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Appalachian Regional Commission
- Delta Regional Authority
- Denali Commission
The full list of Justice40 covered programs is available, here.
What is a Justice40 Pilot Program? The Administration identified 21 existing Federal programs to serve as Justice40 Pilot Programs in the Interim Implementation Guidance issued last year. The purpose of the Justice40 Pilot Programs was to accelerate implementation of the Justice40 Initiative. The 21 identified programs underwent the most rapid changes, creating a roadmap for all covered programs to meet the goals of the Justice40 Initiative. By developing Justice40 implementation plans and reporting on an expedited schedule, Justice40 Pilot Programs helped to provide lessons and best practices that could be applied to other covered programs.
How are communities involved in the Justice40 Initiative?
Communities have been involved in shaping the Biden-Harris Administration’s environmental justice agenda and the Justice40 Initiative since the campaign trail. This engagement continues to shape the implementation of the Justice40 Initiative.
What did President Biden and Vice President Harris hear from communities on the campaign trail? The Biden-Harris campaign heard directly from communities about how to secure environmental justice and confront decades of underinvestment. Community members made it clear that delivering climate, clean energy, clean transit, water, and other investments would help address these interrelated issues and their associated impacts. This historic engagement informed the Justice40 Initiative, which seeks to address the intersectionality of underinvestment, environmental injustice, and the climate crisis.
What does the Justice40 Initiative mean for communities? The Biden-Harris Administration is implementing the Justice40 Initiative right now. The Justice40 Initiative is not a one-time investment, nor a single pot of money. Rather, it is a series of changes to improve how government ensures equitable distribution of the benefits of many programs. Existing and new programs—including programs created by the President’s Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the American Rescue Plan—are covered by the Justice40 Initiative if they meet the eligibility requirements. To meet the goal of the Justice40 Initiative, agencies are changing their programs to ensure the benefits reach disadvantaged communities.
How is the Justice40 Initiative promoting meaningful stakeholder engagement? Community engagement is a critical component of the Justice40 Initiative. Formal Administration guidance directed Justice40 covered programs to conduct meaningful engagement with stakeholders to ensure community members have an opportunity to provide input on program decisions, including in the identification of the benefits of Justice40 covered programs.
What is the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool and how does it relate to the Justice40 Initiative?
What is the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool? The Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) is a geospatial mapping tool to identify disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution. The CEJST features a user-friendly, searchable map that identifies disadvantaged communities across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories, to the extent that the data for the U.S. territories is available. By helping Federal agencies identify disadvantaged communities, the CEJST seeks to fulfill the promise of the Justice40 Initiative. The CEJST was developed with Federal resource allocation purposes in mind.
Why was the CEJST released in a beta version? The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) launched a beta – or draft – version of the CEJST on February 18, 2022 with support from the U.S. Digital Service, and in collaboration with other Federal agencies and departments. The CEJST was released in a beta version in order to seek feedback from Tribal Nations, the public, and Federal agencies. The public comment period was extended until May 25, 2022.
When will the CEJST be updated? After the public comment period, the CEJST will be updated based on feedback. The CEJST will be continuously updated and refined based on feedback and as new datasets and research become available.
How will the CEJST be used for the Justice40 Initiative? Agencies will use the CEJST to help identify disadvantaged communities who will benefit from programs that are part of the Justice40 Initiative.
Where can I find more information? Additional information on the CEJST can be found here. CEQ and the U.S. Digital Service hosted several public training sessions on the CEJST. A recording is available here.