Biden administration creates new environmental justice office

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The Biden administration on Tuesday announced the creation of an Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) to tackle climate-related issues “to protect the health of disadvantaged communities and vulnerable populations on the front lines of pollution.”

The office will be part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and is part of the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity.

“In establishing this new office and prioritizing environmental justice at HHS, Secretary [Xavier] Becerra is undertaking the kind of bold institutional reform that is desperately needed to deliver clean air and water to all communities,” said White House Environmental Quality Council Chair Brenda Mallory. , in a press release. “Today’s announcement is a key step towards addressing environmental injustice. – in all its heartbreaking forms – with the full force and commitment of the federal government.”

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Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra arrives for a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 5, 2022. On Tuesday, his agency announced the creation of the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ).
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Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra arrives for a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 5, 2022. On Tuesday, his agency announced the creation of the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ).
(Xavier Becerra Environmental Justice Office)

The new office will lead initiatives to integrate environmental justice into the HHS mission with the goal of improving the health of disadvantaged communities and vulnerable populations, the agency said.

Tuesday’s announcement came months after the Justice Department launched a similar program focused on environmental justice last year.

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“The truth is that many communities across our country – especially low-income communities and communities of color – continue to bear the brunt of pollution from industrial development, poor land use decisions, transportation and trade corridors,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said. . “Meeting the needs of these communities requires our special attention. That’s why HHS is establishing the Office of Environmental Justice.”

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