Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign laid out a plan for environmental justice that would utilize an “All-of-Government” approach; use data and science to drive decisions; prioritize environmental justice in use of resources; and assess risks to communities from future public health emergencies. Among other things, the plan called for the creation of an Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the Department of Justice to pursue EJ-related cases in concert with the EPA’s Office of Civil Rights. The plan also included an overhaul of the EPA’s External Civil Rights Compliance Office to increase its effectiveness in mitigating impacts for frontline and fenceline communities. Along the same lines, the plan sought public input how the agency should handle Title VI (anti-discrimination) complaints. And it sought to reinstitute a private right of action to sue under Title VI. Regarding the use of data and science, the plan stated that the administration will resuscitate and expand the EPA’s EJSCREEN tool, which would assist government agencies and communities in identifying threats to communities. Expansion of data collection and dissemination would include mandated monitoring of frontline and fenceline communities and requirements that industries directly notify communities, in real time, about releases of hazardous and toxic chemicals. The plan included several other policies and programs, some especially relevant to the EPA such as regulations relating to air pollution in disadvantaged communities and water pollution from PFAS.
Joe Biden for President, “The Biden Plan to Secure Environmental Justice and Equitable Economic Opportunity,” Joe Biden for President: Official Campaign Website, 2020.