Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, established the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) in order to advise the White House Environmental Justice Interagency Council on “how to increase the Federal Government’s effort to address current and historic environmental injustice.” WHEJAC’s final report gives a series of charge questions and recommendations relating to Justice40, the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, and Executive Order 12898 revisions. Many of these recommendations and charge questions deal with adaptation issues either explicitly or implicitly. CEQ issued a response document with implementation information.
There are a series of nested goals outlined in the WHEJAC recommendations:
- Justice 40
- Identify federal programs and policies that can be part of Justice40.
- Determine key elements in defining “investment benefits.”
- Determine key elements in defining “disadvantaged communities.”
- Agency Scorecard: Establish clear performance metrics to ensure agency accountability.
- What indicators would be helpful on an agency scorecard?
- Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool
- What should be the purpose of the tool?
- What indicators/data should be included in the tool?
- Executive Order 12898 Revisions
- What sections should be revised?
- What components should be added?
- What should be removed?
WHEJAC highlights several notable challenges and makes recommendations on how to address them. The adaptation-related challenges and recommendations related to Justice40 and the Agency Scorecard include:
- Challenge: There are no funds for resident relocation for homes built on contaminated land using HUD funds.
- Recommendation: Ensure HUD provides assisted housing that is outside of flood plains.
- Recommendation: HUD should develop policy for assisted housing recipients to use their existing vouchers to locate housing outside flood plains.
- Recommendation: Homes, residences, schools, and childcare facilities should now be eligible for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund with priority to communities with a history of drinking water contamination.
- Challenge: Many households are now experiencing extreme heat and cold due to climate change.
- Recommendation: Invest in Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, helping eligible families with energy costs.
- Recommendation: Develop guidance and policy to ensure equitable use of disaster relief assistance.
- Challenge: Rebuilding communities requires several government agencies working together.
- Recommendation: Establish a sustainable communication office for communities neglected by the government.
- Recommendation: Solar and energy efficiency upgrades, sustainable agriculture, nature-based solutions, clean water infrastructure, and greater broadband access should be encouraged. Grants alone are insufficient.
- Recommendation: A green bank should be established, providing low-interest loans covering all of the upfront costs for the types of projects mentioned in the previous bullet point. 40% of funds must go to frontline and low-income communities.
- Recommendation: Increase funding for the NIEHS Environmental Career Worker Training Program.
- Recommendation: Make investments in flood mitigation and climate-resilient infrastructure in Black and other communities of color. These investments should correct for the racial bias in FEMA’s cost-benefit analysis.
- Recommendation: Develop green zones to address legacy pollution. Bring green benefits to frontline communities. Federally-recognized Tribes currently have underfunded programs in need of benefits (Tribal Climate Resilience Program).
- Recommendation: Pending flood control projects in Puerto Rico should not allow for projects impeding sustainable flood control.
- Recommendation: Use Justice40 funds for Puerto Rico’s South Coast Aquifer.
- Recommendation: Modernize temporary labor camp standards to mitigate climate risks.
- Recommendation: Make investments in USDA Section 514, 515, 516, and 521 for resilience measures.
- Recommendation: Provide funding to EJ communities for climate action plans addressing resilience.
- Recommendation: Support community-driven recovery and rebuilding projects addressing adaptation.
The recommendations related to adaptation within Justice40 investments include:
- Community resilience plans.
- Training for resilience/adaptation jobs.
- Creating demand and investment in resilient infrastructure.
- Portland Clean Energy Fund: Investing in climate resilience while mitigating displacement from gentrification.
Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) Recommendations
- National data is needed.
- For local energy resilience, map microgrid locations and services.
- Also for local energy resilience, data on battery storage locations and capacity is needed.
Executive Order 12898 Revision Recommendations
- Revisions should focus on creating resilient environments and communities for all people.
CEQ issued a response document with implementation information for the WHEJAC recommendations. In the document, CEQ provides each agency listed in the report with agency-specific recommendations as well as general recommendations applicable to all agencies. In response to requests for data in the WHEJAC recommendations, CEQ launched the CEJST in beta, with the public able to provide feedback through the tool. Additionally, a Request For Information was issued in the Federal Register asking for state and local data to supplement the national data. Tribal leaders have also been asked for suggestions on how to make the dataset more representative of their situations. Work was still being done on updating Executive Order 12898 at the time of CEQ’s response.
Publication Date: May 21, 2021
- White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council
- Policy analysis/recommendations