On September 24th, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the formation of a national Office of Environmental Justice: the first ever of its kind. The EPA has mandated The Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) to address the disproportionately deleterious effects of climate change and pollution on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and low-income communities, via a $100 million annual budget and an oversight of $3 billion in grants. So how might these investments affect facility managers? Environmental and Engineering Solutions, Inc. has some advice on where to look as the EPA and OEJ implement these changes.
The first place is the EPA regulations themselves. Michael S. Regan, the EPA’s administrator and first African-American man to head the agency, has indicated that all new chemical, water, and air safety regulations would include provisions to lessen the effects of environmental damage on historically-marginalized communities. Reworking the rules governing power plants and factory smokestacks and dumping into waterways are examples of changes facility managers will need to keep abreast of. Suppose your facilities perform activities that might fall under these microscopes and/or are located within relevant communities, reach out to one of our consultants on ways Environmental and Engineering Solutions. In that case, Inc. can provide support in navigating these changes and their impact on your current operations.
The second area of importance is the $3 billion allocation program to be administered by the OEJ. These are called Environmental Justice Block Grants. These funds will be “invest in community-led projects in disadvantaged communities and community capacity building centers to address disproportionate environmental and public health harms related to pollution and climate change.” The details of how this money will be disbursed are yet to be released. These grants will open new opportunities for facility construction in relevant areas.
Lastly, it’s important to mention how the OEJ’s formation fits into our polarized political climate. There is significant blowback to EPA regulations and environmental justice causes within the branches of the American government. For example, the Supreme Court ruled earlier this year to diminish the EPA’s ability to regulate power plant carbon emissions. In addition, in the House, a ranking Republican Representative on the Select Committee on Climate Crisis recently labeled environmental justice initiatives as part of “the conspiracy of racism.” Given these trends, it’s fair to think that challenges to the OEJ’s activities might be on the horizon — and are worth keeping tabs on.
Facilities management involves keeping an eye on local trends and big-picture national events such as this one. EES has you covered on both accounts with up-to-date knowledge and expert analysis to ensure you are prepared for significant changes before they arrive. For more information and to schedule a consultation, contact Tom Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org.