FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden convenes the fourth virtual leader-level meeting of the Major Economies Forum (MEF) on Energy and Climate at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 20, 2023. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden plans to sign on Friday an executive order directing federal agencies to put more focus on environmental polices that do harm to communities, according to the White House.
The order will establish a new Office of Environmental Justice within the White House aimed at coordinating efforts across the government. It would also require federal agencies to notify communities if toxic substances are released from a federal facility.
Disasters like the February derailment of a freight train in East Palestine, Ohio, that caused a hazardous chemical spill brought attention to environmental damage that some communities experience at higher rates.
“For far too long, communities across our country have faced persistent environmental injustice through toxic pollution, underinvestment in infrastructure and critical services, and other disproportionate environmental harms often due to a legacy of racial discrimination,” the White House said in a statement.
Biden will announce the initiative during an event at the White House Rose Garden on Friday.
The president has regularly used executive authority in areas of focus, including the environment and race, where his ability to deliver new laws from a divided Congress has been stymied.