The Department of Health and Human Services announced the formation of a new Office of Environmental Justice in a Tuesday news release, confirming prior reports.
According to the department, the Biden administration's new agency aims to protect "disadvantaged communities and vulnerable populations" from zoning, pollution, and climate change.
"The blunt truth is that many communities across our nation – particularly low-income communities and communities of color – continue to bear the brunt of pollution from industrial development, poor land-use decisions, transportation, and trade corridors," said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
"Meeting the needs of these communities requires our focused attention. That's why HHS is establishing the Office of Environmental Justice."
The department laid out the core responsibilities for the agency, which include leading initiatives that support "environmental justice," working with the Office of Civil Rights "to support compliance under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964," and promoting training opportunities in private companies.
"Health is closely connected to the environments where people spend the most time – neighborhoods, workplaces, and outdoor spaces," said Admiral Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary for health.
"Millions in the U.S. are at risk of poor health because they live, work, play, learn, and grow in or near areas of excessive pollution and other environmental hazards. The Office of Environmental Justice is an important avenue through which their well-being and quality of life are receiving our full attention."
The administration's announcement comes as President Joe Biden has received heat from the left wing of his party for insufficiently addressing climate change, Breitbart reported.
Specifically, Biden suffered a substantial defeat in his agenda when moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced that he would not vote for the Green New Deal environmental infrastructure legislation in December 2021.
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