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“The Interagency Council shall develop a strategy to address current and historic environmental injustice by consulting with the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and with local environmental justice leaders.”Executive Order 14008 on “Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad“
What is the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council (IAC)?
As part of President Biden’s historic commitment to environmental justice, he created the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council (IAC) when he signed Executive Order 14008 just days after taking office.
Executive Order 14008 charges the IAC with developing “a strategy to address current and historic environmental injustice by consulting with the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and with local environmental justice leaders.” It further requires the IAC to “develop clear performance metrics to ensure accountability, and publish an annual public performance scorecard on its implementation.”
Building on Executive Order 14008, in April 2023 President Biden signed Executive Order 14096, which expands interagency coordination to further advance the Administration’s whole-of-government approach to environmental justice. Executive Order 14096, Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All, charges the IAC with supporting and facilitating “interagency collaboration on programs and activities related to environmental justice, including the development of materials for environmental justice training to build the capacity of Federal employees to advance environmental justice and to increase the meaningful participation of individuals from communities with environmental justice concerns in Federal activities.”
Who are the federal agencies that serve on the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council?
Principals of the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council
How is the IAC working to advance environmental justice across the federal government?
The IAC and all of its members have played an important role in the development and execution of the following:
- The Justice40 Initiative: Federal agencies have shared best practices and lessons learned to implement the government-wide Justice40 Initiative. In addition, the IAC was consulted in the development of the Interim Implementation Guidance for the Justice40 Initiative, which was issued on July 20, 2021. Lessons from the IAC members’ implementation also informed the development of the Justice40 Interim Implementation Guidance Addendum, which was issued on January 27, 2023, and the accompanying Instructions.
- The Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST): The IAC provided input that informed the Council on Environmental Quality’s (CEQ) creation of the CEJST, which seeks to help agencies identify disadvantaged communities for the purposes of the Justice40 Initiative.
- The Environmental Justice Scorecard: The Office of Management and Budget, CEQ, and the U.S. Digital Service published the Environmental Justice Scorecard, the first government-wide assessment of federal agencies’ efforts to advance environmental justice. The Environmental Justice Scorecard incorporates input from the IAC, formal recommendations from the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, and feedback from the public, environmental justice stakeholders, and other experts.
- Update to Executive Order 12898: Thirty years ago, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12898, which for the first time in our nation’s history recognized and sought to address what community members and leaders had been saying for decades: harmful pollution disproportionally impacts low-income communities and communities of color, among other vulnerable communities. On April 21, 2023, President Biden issued Executive Order 14096, which builds on and supplements the foundational efforts of Executive Order 12898. Many IAC members provided feedback on how Executive Order 12898 should be updated.
- White House Campaign for Environmental Justice: The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring that people are seeing and experiencing the impacts of the President’s environmental justice agenda in their communities. To strengthen partnerships with communities that have been left behind for too long, the Administration launched the White House Campaign for Environmental Justice. IAC agencies are helping advance the campaign and its goal to redouble the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to meet people where they are and better focus agency resources and attention on the needs of marginalized and overburdened communities.
How is the IAC structured?
The IAC has numerous committees and working groups that support implementation and executive of the Biden-Harris Administration’s all-of-government commitment to environmental justice. IAC committee and working group meetings are attended by agency officials and staff dedicated to advancing President Biden’s environmental justice agenda.
The IAC replaced the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (IWG), which was established in 1994 and originally convened by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In Executive Order 14008, President Biden created the IAC in order to elevate environmental justice as a whole-of-government priority and enable CEQ, within the Executive Office of the President, to coordinate and support interagency efforts on environmental justice.
How does the IAC engage with the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC)?
As set forth in Executive Order 14008, the IAC is charged with developing a strategy to address current and historic environmental injustice by consulting with the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC). IAC agencies attend WHEJAC public meetings, and are the recipients of the WHEJAC’s independent advice, in the form of recommendations that are available on its website. The IAC values receiving the WHEJAC’s recommendations, which are critical to advancing the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious environmental justice agenda.
Moving forward, as required in Executive Order 14096, the WHEJAC and the IAC will hold at least one public meeting per year.
Executive Orders That Advance Federal Action on Environmental Justice
The landmark executive order on environmental justice, Executive Order 12898 signed February 11, 1994 on Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, stated that “each Federal agency shall make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations in the United States and its territories and possessions, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands.”
Within days of taking office, the Biden-Harris Administration built on the legacy of Executive Order 12898, and on April 21, 2023, President Biden signed Executive Order 13096 on Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All. Throughout the Biden-Harris Administration, the President has issued numerous executive orders that advance environmental justice, and seek to secure a more equitable and just future for all:
Executive Order 14008 on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, signed January 27, 2021
Executive Order 13990 on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science To Tackle the Climate Crisis, signed January 20, 2021
Executive Order 13985 on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, signed January 20, 2021
Executive Order 14052 on Implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed November 15, 2021
Executive Order 14057 on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability, signed December 8, 2021
Executive Order 14082 on Implementation of the Energy and Infrastructure Provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act, signed September 12, 2022
Executive Order 14091 on Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, signed February 16, 2023
Furthermore, Executive Order 14096 makes clear that the pursuit of environmental justice is the duty of all executive branch agencies and should be incorporated into every federal agency’s mission.
“Restoring and protecting a healthy environment — wherever people live, play, work, learn, grow, and worship — is a matter of justice and a fundamental duty that the federal government must uphold on behalf of all people.”Executive Order 14096 on “revitalizing our nation’s commitment to environmental justice for all”