GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic Celebrates Climate and Environmental Justice Executive Orders

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January 30, 2021
President Biden Signs Executive Orders, Vice President Kamala Harris Stands Nearby

At GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic, our work centers on the knowledge that climate action, environmental justice, and economic development go hand-in-hand. GRID Mid-Atlantic is thrilled that the new Biden Administration is putting this recognition into action with a series of strong Executive Orders issued during its first week in office. We look forward to working with policymakers as they implement and build on them.

President Biden issued several Day One Executive Orders adopting principles that GRID Mid-Atlantic has advanced for years.

  • All federal agencies must “adequately take account of climate risk, environmental justice, and intergenerational equity” when assessing costs and benefits. 
  • Agencies must also embed equity in their actions and resource allocations, in consultation with members of communities that have been historically underrepresented or subject to discrimination. 
  • Regulatory review must fully account for equity benefits, even when they are hard to quantify, and for distributional consequences to ensure that decisions benefit and don’t burden disadvantaged, vulnerable, or marginalized communities. 

Together, these Orders amount to government-wide climate and equity screens for nearly all actions. A week later, on a climate-themed day of action, President Biden and his National Climate Advisor, Gina McCarthy, announced an Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad that goes even further to promote clean energy and climate justice. It takes a slew of actions to coordinate ambitious climate action, clean spending, green jobs, resilience, and environmental justice using a whole-government approach. Adopting one of our policy recommendations, the Order establishes an Environmental Justice Advisory Council through which environmental justice and racial equity leaders will advise government agencies. Bolstering these efforts will be a Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool with interactive maps, an environmental justice enforcement strategy, and the incorporation of environmental justice into every agency’s mission.

2014 photo of National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy visiting a home in Northeast DC
2014 photo of National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy visiting a home in Northeast DC

The Executive Order will direct real resources toward achieving its principles and making a difference to the communities GRID Mid-Atlantic works with. The Order creates the Justice40 Initiative to direct 40 percent of the benefits of Federal climate and clean energy related investments to disadvantaged communities, in consultation with those communities. An Environmental Justice Scorecard will help hold agencies accountable to this goal. 

It will take enormous efforts inside and outside the government to make these policies a reality. We will continue to push for environmental and economic justice to be driving principles in our nation’s decisions. 

A new era is just beginning. GRID Mid-Atlantic shows that advancing justice and economic growth through clean energy is possible. We greatly appreciate your continued support for our work.