Bill Would Further Federal Action on Environmental Justice

October 5, 2022
Cecile Brown, (202) 271-6534,

(WASHINGTON – October 5, 2022) Today, U.S. Rep. Nanette Barragán and Sen. Alex Padilla introduced the Enforcing and Empowering Environmental Justice Act, which would establish the Office of Environmental Justice and a new Environmental Justice Section within the Environment and Natural Resource Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

“Everyone, regardless of their race or zip code, has a right to a healthy and safe environment. However, communities most harmed by pollution have been denied full and equitable access to the government’s protection for too long.  This bill seeks to right that wrong and helps deliver on the Biden administration’s promise to confront environmental injustice and inequity.

“The Enforcing and Empowering Environmental Justice Act codifies environmental justice into the DOJ's structure, adding much needed organizational capacity and preventing rollbacks by future administrations. The new EJ Office helps ensure that frontline communities are active participants in the DOJ’s environment-related efforts and facilitates coordination across federal agencies and state and local governments to address environmental justice challenges.

“Additionally, the new EJ section brings equity and EJ expertise into environmental legal matters and civil rights complaints. The introduction of this bill is a great step towards ensuring our agencies are working for and with the communities who are first and worst impacted by environmental injustices.

“This bill comes just days after the Environmental Protection Agency announced their new national Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights, building toward a whole-of-government approach to address environmental injustice. We urge Congress to swiftly pass this important bill and continue the momentum toward a more equitable and just future for everyone.”

  • Dr. Margot Brown, Vice President, Justice and Equity, Environmental Defense Fund

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