☷Justice Department Launches Comprehensive Environmental Justice Strategy
U.S. Department of Justice ( By Press Release office)
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Attorney General Merrick B . Garland was joined by EPA Administrator Michael S . Regan today in announcing a series of actions to secure environmental justice for all Americans . In addition to launching a new Office of Environmental Justice within the Justice Department , Attorney General Garland also announced a new comprehensive environmental justice enforcement strategy to guide the Justice Department’s work and issued an Interim Final Rule that will restore the use of supplemental environmental projects in appropriate circumstances . “Although violations of our environmental laws can happen anywhere , communities of color , indigenous communities , and low - income communities often bear the brunt of the harm caused by environmental crime , pollution , and climate change , ” said Attorney General Garland . “For far too long , these communities have faced barriers to accessing the justice they deserve . The Office of Environmental Justice will serve as the central hub for our efforts to advance our comprehensive environmental justice enforcement strategy . We will prioritize the cases that will have the greatest impact on the communities most overburdened by environmental harm . ”“EPA and the Justice Department’s partnership to protect overburdened and underserved communities across America has never been stronger , ” said EPA Administrator Regan . “This environmental justice enforcement strategy epitomizes the Biden - Harris Administration’s commitment to holding polluters accountable as a means to deliver on our environmental justice priorities . Critical to that is the return of Supplemental Environmental Projects as a tool to secure tangible public health benefits for communities harmed by environmental violations . ”Consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad , Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta issued a comprehensive environmental justice enforcement strategy to guide the Justice Department’s litigators , investigators , and U . S . Attorneys’ Offices nationwide to advance the cause of environmental justice through the enforcement of federal laws . Developed by the Environment and Natural Resources Division ( ENRD ) in partnership with EPA , the strategy will ensure that the entire Department is using all available legal tools to promote environmental justice . The Justice Department also launched its first - ever Office of Environmental Justice ( OEJ ) within ENRD today . This new office will be a critical resource as the Justice Department implements the new comprehensive enforcement strategy . Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim named Cynthia Ferguson , an experienced ENRD attorney with more than a decade working on environmental justice issues , as Acting Director . Finally , the Justice Department issued an Interim Final Rule today that will restore the use of supplemental environmental projects in appropriate circumstances and subject to guidelines and limitations set forth in a separate memorandum issued by the Attorney General today . For decades before 2017 , EPA and ENRD relied upon such projects to provide redress to communities most directly affected by violations of federal environmental laws . For this reason , they are particularly powerful tools for advancing environmental justice . The Justice Department’s Interim Final Rule invites public comment on the new guidelines and limitations , including to inform any future changes to the Justice Department’s approach .
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