Environmental Justice and Biden Executive Orders: Addressing Climate Change, Ensuring Access to Clean Air and Water

Environmental Justice and Biden Executive Orders: Addressing Climate Change, Ensuring Access to Clean Air and Water

Speaking Engagement

This Strafford CLE webinar will provide environmental counsel with the current Biden administration executive actions that address climate change and environmental justice. The panel will review how the current administration has acted via the White House and the EPA to require regulated entities to analyze the environmental effects of business operations that have disproportionately impacted underserved communities and develop concrete measures to address inequities.

Within the first days of the Biden administration, the President issued several executive orders (EOs) directly related to environmental justice and new efforts to increase enforcement of existing regulations. Counsel should be familiar with the path charted by these EOs and what to expect from the administration’s stated commitment to pursue climate and environmental equity.

Specifically, through EO 14008 the President has directed the EPA administrator and the DOJ to strengthen enforcement of environmental violations that "disproportionately impact underserved communities" and to develop more sophisticated and transparent data to identify such patterns of noncompliance worthy of heightened enforcement scrutiny. The DOJ was also directed to coordinate with EPA to develop comprehensive environmental justice enforcement to seek timely remedies for systemic environmental contamination.

Several aspects of the administration’s “all of government” approach to environmental justice are also shaping key legislative vehicles in Congress. For example, while the leading Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation's Future Act (CLEAN Future Act or the Act) incorporates a range of measures designed to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emission by 2050; notably it also includes a Title VI that would, if ultimately enacted, significantly advance the administration's environmental justice objectives by requiring the development of enhanced environmental justice risk mapping data and codifying the “EJ40” investment initiative first articulated in EJ 14008.

Listen as an authoritative panel, including WilmerHale Partner Peggy Otum, discusses the status of environmental justice within the Biden administration, what the current EOs have established, and where future administrative and legislative actions may lead. The panel will address how environmental counsel can be prepared for the major changes in this area of law over the next four years.

Key issues will include: 

  • What impact do the current EOs have on environmental enforcement?
  • What has EPA been directed to do under the first Biden EOs? What has the DOJ been directed to do?
  • What is the likelihood of a wave of future citizen suit actions brought in pursuit of environmental justice?
  • How can counsel be prepared for the apparent paradigm shift being driven by the Biden administration?

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