News Brief

Obama Administration Makes Environmental Justice a Priority

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Attorney General Eric Holder confer during the meeting of the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice.

Photo: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

On September 22, 2010, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Lisa Jackson, along with the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Nancy Sutley, reconvened the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice for the first time in more than a decade. The group, which includes five cabinet members, was created to encourage and coordinate environmental justice efforts at the federal level.

Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations,” signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, requires all federal agencies to make environmental justice a part of their mission. The working group, created by the order, will advise agencies on how to identify situations in which environmental and human health impacts of federal actions are disproportionately affecting minority and impoverished populations; the group will also advise agencies on how to address these inequities. Low-income communities are often located in areas hardest-hit by environmental challenges such as brownfields, air pollution, and water pollution.

The working group will meet monthly meetings, as well as regional “listening sessions” to better understand the issues facing disadvantaged groups. In addition, federal agencies will develop or update their environmental justice strategies by September 2011.

More information is available at EPA's website.


Published October 12, 2010

Wendt, A. (2010, October 12). Obama Administration Makes Environmental Justice a Priority. Retrieved from

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