This has been a major comprehensive legislative package on this topic. Its relevance to community engagement and environmental justice is found in the ways in which environmental and climate justice is embedded in federal government decision making. This plan supports grant programs to build community capacity and technical assistance.
It also seeks to enable community leadership networks to share ideas and demonstrate the achievability of benchmarks. As communities collaborate across economic regions, watersheds, and shorelines, adaptation and resilience planning can become more integrated, ensuring each community’s plan reflects shared values and objectives. Additionally, the plan seeks to ensure that public engagement, transparency, accountability, and environmental justice are central to climate adaptation and Climate Resilience Plans, which should be required by Congress for all states, local governments, tribes, and territories as a condition for loans and grants through the National Climate Adaptation Program.
Additional elements of the plan that should be noted include:
— The provision to establish a Climate Resilience Service Corps within the Corporation for Community and National Service (CNCS) and re-establish the Civilian Conservation Corps
— The establishment or enhancement of EJ programs in institutions of higher education, with special attention to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs)
— Each of the ten regional offices of EPA will hold biennial public meetings on EJ, with robust and inclusive outreach to communities in the region.
— Similar principles of EJ and capacity building will be extended to broader public health strategies in response to climate threats
— The direction of a significant percentage of climate investments to environmental justice communities and communities most affected by the economic transition away from fossil fuel consumption.
— The codification of the EJSCREEN tool or an equivalent tool.
— Following H.R. 6692, which authorizes $50 million for FY2020 for the EPA Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program, and Community Action for a Renewed Environment Grant Program
- — On the design of the latter two, see: Carmen Sirianni, “The Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving (EJCPS) and Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) Programs at EPA: Two Models” (July 2020). CivicGreen Policy
— The codification of the 1994 Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice and the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (building upon several other acts in Congress, including the Environmental Justice for All Act).
— The strengthening the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to provide additional protections in its environmental impact reviews to EJ and tribal communities, including on cumulative impacts.
— The partnering with tribes and indigenous communities for climate adaptation and resilience and requirement for EJ training for federal agency staff.