Democrats Call for Stronger Action on Environmental Justice

The Justice40 initiative could make a major difference for communities burdened by pollution, but only if funds are spent on projects that maintain a focus on equity.

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September 18, 2022, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Air Pollution

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“In a letter sent Tuesday, more than 60 Democrats urged the White House to strengthen implementation of the Justice40 Initiative, which seeks to send at least 40 percent of the benefits of federal climate investments to communities that are overburdened by pollution, climate change and other environmental hazards.” 

According to an article by Maxine Joselow and Vanessa Montalbano in the Washington Post, the group called for four key commitments: to consider the 40 percent goal a starting point rather than a ceiling for investments; to ensure programs funded by Justice40 do not cause additional harm to communities; to provide well-paying local jobs; and to establish a Climate Justice and Equity Office tasked with overseeing a “whole-of-government” approach to the program.

The Justice40 initiative has faced criticism from environmental justice advocates who fear that, due to its unclear parameters, the program could end up funding projects that increase pollution and negative health impacts in underinvested communities. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), who led the letter-writing group, said “The Inflation Reduction Act has the power to shape a generation of climate action that can build health and wealth in disadvantaged communities, but only if we develop and use a powerful Justice40 framework to right the historic wrongs of environmental injustice.”

Tuesday, September 6, 2022 in The Washington Post

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