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“Biden Bolsters DOJ Focus on Environmental Justice, Climate”

“The Justice Department must consider establishing an environmental justice office under a sweeping executive order President Joe Biden issued Wednesday.

The order aims to carry out Biden’s pledge to take a “whole of government” approach to addressing climate change and the disparate effects of pollution on disadvantaged communities—calling on agencies across the executive branch to devote resources to the cause.

It directs the Justice Department to consider adding an office “to coordinate environmental justice activities among Department of Justice components and United States Attorneys’ Offices nationwide.” It also directs the department to consider changing the name of its existing Environment and Natural Resources Division to the Environmental Justice and Natural Resources Division.

Biden’s order further calls on the division to coordinate with the Environmental Protection Agency and others “to develop a comprehensive environmental justice enforcement strategy, which shall seek to provide timely remedies for systemic environmental violations and contaminations, and injury to natural resources.”

The language of the order differs from how it was described in a press briefing Wednesday, when White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy said the order calls on the Justice Department to create an office of “climate justice.””

Ellen M. Gilmer reports for Bloomberg Environment January 27, 2021.