President Biden signed an executive order Friday aimed at ensuring federal decisions consider “environmental justice,” which addresses higher pollution burdens often faced by communities of color and people living in poverty. The new executive order directs agencies to identify and address data and science gaps to help better understand cumulative environmental impacts. It will create a new White House Office of Environmental Justice within the White House Council on Environmental Quality to coordinate environmental justice initiatives across federal agencies.
Agencies will “consider measures to address and prevent disproportionate and adverse environmental and health impacts on communities,” such as the cumulative effects of pollution and climate change, according to a White House fact sheet. Agencies are also now required to notify nearby communities when toxic substances are released from a federal facility and to hold public meetings to share information on health risks and precautions as needed.