The planet is heating up and there are more greenhouse gases from human activity than ever. President Joe Biden’s proposal for $500 billion in climate spending, which was included in the Build Back Better bill, is currently being stalled. The midterm elections are approaching.
Biden’s presidency is only one year old and his administration is under greater pressure than ever before to take meaningful action on climate change.
Brenda Mallory, the chair of the White Houses Council on Environmental Quality(CEQ), said that she believes it is anxiety in an interview with BuzzFeed News. There is just an anxiety that we won’t be able do what we say. This really worries people, because it affects real peoples lives.
Biden gave Mallorys the task of leading the way in overhauling government to better serve low income communities and communities of color. This included funding for climate-related programs and funding.
In particular, Executive OrderBiden signed the Justice40 initiative his first week in office. It outlined a governmentwide goal to deliver 40% of the benefits from all federal climate, clean-energy, and pollution cleanup programs for disadvantaged communities. The Council on Environmental Quality remained in charge.
Combining fast-approaching project deadlines with the ability to deliver results in a timely manner is called the ResignationsThis is Two CEQ officialsCecilia Martinez, senior environmental justice director, and David Kieve the public engagement director have put this little-known office in the spotlight in recent weeks.
Expectations were high. They should be high because people’s lives are at danger, said Mustafa Santiago Ali a senior leader at National Wildlife Federation and an Obama-era environmental justice officer.
Mallory, in her first interview since the departures of her staff, addressed the questions, reflected on last year, and set out her offices goals for 2022.
She stated that she was just trying to make sure that the team and I are focused on delivering on what we have agreed to.
Mallory calls 2021 a year that saw incredible transformation in government’s environmental justice work. This is referring to the creation of Interagency and White House Environmental Justice Advisory Councils.
The Justice40 program was also launched.
Mallory stated equity is now at the heart of any federal program that addresses climate change. Now the question is how to fully apply that concept.
Her office is working on exactly this. The White House did the same last July. Released interim guidanceHow federal agencies should look at the 40% goal, and what programs would be affected. Mallory says that most federal agencies provided an update in December on this matter.
Mallory added that all this sets us up to be ready for 2022.
The release of the administration’s environmental justice scorecard, which is a tool to track the performance of Justice40 initiative, will be perhaps the first step.
Initial estimates by the Biden administration were that the scorecard will be released in February. Mallory acknowledged that it may not happen. She stated that our primary goal is the first quarter. I won’t swear that February is my goal.
Mallory also declined a date for the release of final Justice40 guidelines or the launch climate and environmental justice screening tools. These tools will include interactive maps to assist officials in identifying and defining disadvantaged communities. Mallory seemed positive that both would be completed by the end of this year, even though it was not clear when.
Mallory didn’t go into details about why staff members left her office but she stated that new hiring would occur. She said that at most, one person will be coming into the office, but it would not surprise me if there were more.
This is on top of the December hire of at least 1 new official who is specifically focused on environmental justice. Current staffing levelsAccording to Council on Environmental Quality, there are six people who are dedicated to this topic, but not the chair.
Ali was cautiously optimistic about this news, having been calling for the White House’s continued expansion of its staff focusing on environmental justice. He said that it was important to fill those positions as quickly as possible with qualified people and to add more people as needed.
Mallory did not ignore complaints from activists who were frustrated by the speed of her offices in their first year.
She also said that we would love to move faster.