Department of Justice Launches Comprehensive Environmental Justice Strategy | Takeover bid

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland was joined by EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan today to announce a series of actions to ensure environmental justice for all Americans. In addition to launching a new Office of Environmental Justice within the Department of Justice, Attorney General Garland also announced a new comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy to guide the work of the Department of Justice and released an interim final rule that will restore the use of additional environmental projects appropriately. circumstances.

“While violations of our environmental laws can occur anywhere, communities of color, Indigenous communities and low-income communities often bear the brunt of the damage caused by environmental crime, pollution and climate change” , Attorney General Garland said. “For too long, these communities have faced barriers to accessing the justice they deserve. The Office of Environmental Justice will serve as a hub for our efforts to advance our overall environmental justice enforcement strategy. We will prioritize cases that will have the greatest impact on the communities most burdened by environmental harm.

“EPA’s partnership with the Department of Justice to protect overburdened and underserved communities across America has never been stronger,” said EPA Administrator Regan. “This Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy embodies the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to holding polluters accountable as a way to deliver on our environmental justice priorities. The return of incremental environmental projects as a tool to secure tangible public health benefits to communities harmed by environmental violations is key in this regard.

In accordance with President Biden’s executive order on Tackling the climate crisis at home and abroad, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta released a comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy to guide litigants, investigators, and U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors’ offices nationwide to advance the cause of justice environment through the application of federal laws. Developed by the Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) in partnership with EPA, the strategy will ensure that the entire department uses all available legal tools to promote environmental justice.

The Ministry of Justice also today launched its first ever Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) within the ENRD. This new office will be a critical resource as the Department of Justice implements the new comprehensive law enforcement strategy. Deputy Attorney General Todd Kim has appointed Cynthia Ferguson, an experienced ENRD lawyer with more than a decade of work on environmental justice issues, as acting director.

Finally, the Department of Justice today issued an Interim Final Rule that will restore the use of Additional Environmental Projects in appropriate circumstances and subject to the guidelines and limitations set forth in a separate memorandum issued today by the Attorney General’s Office. general. For decades prior to 2017, the EPA and ENRD relied on 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 of any future changes to the Justice Department’s approach.

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