The new office is the latest initiative from the Biden administration to better address environmental inequities that impact vulnerable communities.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Tuesday it is establishing the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ). The OEJ will be part of HHS’ Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, which was formed in August 2021 to address climate change and health equity.
The OEJ is an additional step to protect vulnerable communities on the frontlines of pollution and other environmental hazards affecting health.
“The blunt truth is that many communities across our nation–particularly 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,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, in the announcement. “Meeting the needs of these communities requires our focused attention. That’s why HHS is establishing the Office of Environmental Justice.”
- The OEJ will: Lead initiatives that incorporate environmental justice into the HHS mission to improve health in disadvantaged communities and vulnerable populations across the country
- Develop and implement an environmental justice and health strategy throughout HHS
- Coordinate annual HHS environmental justice reports
- Provide HHS’ Office of Civil Rights with environmental justice expertise to support compliance under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Promote training opportunities to create an environmental justice workforce