EPA Announces New National Office for Environmental Justice and Civil Rights

On September 24, EPA announced the creation of a brand-new national office focused on advancing environmental justice and civil rights. The new office, named the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights, will consist of more than 200 EPA staff both at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and the ten regional offices. According to the agency’s news release, EPA staff will “engage with communities with environmental justice concerns to understand their needs, as well as Tribal, state, and local partners; manage and disburse historic levels of grants and technical assistance; work with other EPA offices to incorporate environmental justice into the agency’s programs, policies, and processes, as allowed by law; and ensure EPA funding recipients comply with applicable civil rights laws.” The office will be led by a new Senate-confirmed Assistant Administrator who will be announced later.

This office will oversee the implementation of the $3 billion climate and environmental justice block grant program created by the Inflation Reduction Act. Additionally, the office will ensure EPA’s implementation of other funding programs within the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and regular appropriations meet or exceed the President’s Justice40 Initiative.