Washington, D.C. — A new report from the Center for American Progress lays out an approach to maximize the near-term benefits of climate and clean energy investments delivered to disadvantaged communities by removing funding barriers and strengthening existing programs.
President Joe Biden committed to directing 40 percent of his administration’s investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities by launching the Justice40 Initiative through the landmark climate executive order he signed in the early days of his administration. The initiative aims to begin to address the dangerous levels of pollution, the legacy of chronic disinvestment, and the lack of access to capital in communities of color and low-income areas driven by discriminatory environmental, housing, infrastructure, and economic policies.
The report recommends that the national climate advisor, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and agency leaders take the following immediate actions to implement the Justice40 Initiative:
- Develop and use investment criteria and guidance to ensure that federally funded projects reduce harmful local pollution and carbon emissions where possible; minimize flood, heat, and other extreme weather risks; avoid displacing existing community members; and meaningfully engage community stakeholders.
- Overhaul application and reporting requirements, provide technical assistance, and waive cost-sharing rules to make grants and other federal aid more accessible to disadvantaged communities. Cost-sharing requires grantees to bear a percentage of the costs of projects funded by the federal government.
- Work with Congress to increase the amount of federal funding that flows directly to communities, including by changing distribution formulas; expanding existing infrastructure, such as Community Development Financial Institutions, that communities need to access critical investments; and increasing annual appropriations to programs that funnel resources directly to disadvantaged communities.
“President Joe Biden’s commitment to target his administration’s climate and clean energy investments in the communities who need them most marked a turning point in the fight for racial justice, environmental justice, and climate justice,” said Cathleen Kelly, senior fellow for Energy and Environment at CAP. “We have an unprecedented opportunity to address lingering injustice and build a more equitable clean energy future. By following the recommendations in this report along with the lead of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, President Biden can make sure that disadvantaged communities finally have access to the resources they deserve.”
“This report is a road map for turning words into actions,” said Richard Moore, co-coordinator of the Los Jardines Institute and co-chair of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. “The Biden administration’s commitment to correcting a long and troubling history of injustice has the potential to change so many lives in the communities that have borne the brunt of dangerous pollution alone for too long.”
“With intentional implementation, President Biden’s initiative can begin to accelerate long-overdue progress toward environmental, racial, and economic justice,” said Mikyla Reta, research associate at the Center for American Progress. “In addition to achieving the goal laid out by the Justice40 executive order, the Biden administration should act to protect the health, safety, and well-being of all Americans by integrating environmental justice into the development of our national climate strategy.”
Read the report: “Implementing Biden’s Justice40 Commitment To Combat Environmental Racism” by Cathleen Kelly and Mikyla Reta
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