On April 21, 2023, President Joe Biden signed an executive order revitalizing our nation’s commitment to environmental justice for all. The order aims to address the disproportionate impacts of pollution, climate change, and environmental degradation on low-income communities and communities of color. The order also recognizes the rights and contributions of indigenous peoples, who have long been stewards of the land and water.

The executive order establishes a White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, composed of representatives from various sectors and backgrounds, to provide recommendations to the President on how to advance environmental justice across federal agencies and programs. The council will also monitor the implementation of the Justice40 Initiative, which was launched by Biden in January 2023 and pledges to deliver 40 percent of the benefits of federal investments in clean energy, infrastructure, and environmental remediation to disadvantaged communities.

The executive order also directs federal agencies to develop and implement environmental justice strategies, plans, and scorecards, as well as to increase public participation and transparency in decision-making processes that affect environmental quality and health outcomes. Additionally, the order creates an interagency climate and environmental justice screening tool that will help identify and prioritize communities that face multiple and cumulative environmental burdens. The tool will also facilitate the allocation of resources and enforcement actions to address environmental injustices.

The executive order builds on Biden’s previous actions to combat the climate crisis and promote environmental justice, such as rejoining the Paris Agreement, canceling the Keystone XL pipeline, pausing new oil and gas leases on public lands and waters, and setting a goal of 100 percent clean electricity by 2035. By signing this order, Biden reaffirms his vision of a more equitable and sustainable future for all Americans.