Chair Grijalva Commends Biden Administration’s Environmental Justice Scorecard, Calls for Strong Monitoring of NEPA and Civil Rights Act Compliance
Washington, D.C. – House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva yesterday sent a letter to the Biden administration praising their work to create an annual Environmental Justice (EJ) Scorecard and offering formal comments to guide its development. The administration announced the launch of a public comment period for the EJ Scorecard’s vision, framework, and engagement plan in August.
Chair Grijalva’s full comments are available here.
In his letter, Chair Grijalva emphasized the importance of including performance measures that examine federal agencies’ implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). NEPA is widely considered the most important tool for giving communities a say in the federal decision-making process. One specific recommendation cited by environmental justice communities, and echoed in the letter, is to measure whether agencies are properly disclosing and considering the cumulative impacts of multiple sources of pollution in a given community during the NEPA process.
Chair Grijalva’s comments also pushed for the EJ Scorecard to track and monitor agencies’ compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other civil rights laws. The Biden administration has already made notable progress in improving civil rights enforcement to help ensure more equitable federal permitting, but the EJ Scorecard presents an opportunity to transparently measure ongoing progress to help make sure that federal funding is not subsidizing discriminatory activities. The letter outlines several specific recommendations for potential performance measures to meet this goal.
Chair Grijalva also emphasized the importance of continuing to engage environmental justice communities as the process for developing the EJ Scorecard moves forward. He wrote, “It is imperative that affected EJ community voices guide the continued development of the Environmental Justice Scorecard. Using an inclusive, transparent, community-led, and community-driven process—like the one employed to draft the Environmental Justice for All Act—can help ensure that environmental justice communities throughout the country are responsibly engaged.”
President Biden announced the administration’s intention to develop the EJ Scorecard in Executive Order 14008 on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. As stated, the EJ Scorecard aims to provide “a robust and comprehensive assessment of the Federal Government’s efforts to secure environmental justice for all.”
The planned EJ Scorecard will measure and monitor each relevant federal agency’s progress on advancing environmental justice across three different activities: 1) reducing harms and burdens borne disproportionately by communities, 2) delivering benefits to communities, and 3) undertaking institutional reforms to center community voice in decision making. Once developed, the administration intends to make the scorecard publicly available for viewing.
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