US HHS Establishes Office of Environmental Justice

US HHS Establishes Office of Environmental Justice

The new office will work to protect the health of underserved communities exposed to environmental hazards.

Last week, the Biden-Harris Administration announced a new office to protect health in underserved communities.

According to a press release, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) established the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ). One of the purposes of the OEJ, officially established on May 31, 2022, is to serve disadvantaged communities and vulnerable populations. The OEJ will “protect the health” of people in these communities that are exposed to environmental hazards.

Under the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity at HHS, the OEJ will have multiple responsibilities to support the HHS and protect people in these communities. According to OEJ, some of these roles include providing expertise, “leading initiatives,” “developing and implementing an HHS-wide strategy” and proving people in these communities with resources.

“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 HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in the press release. ”Meeting the needs of these communities requires our focused attention. That’s why HHS is establishing the Office of Environmental Justice.”

The 2022 HHS Environmental Justice Strategy and Implementation Plan is open for public comment until June 18, 2022. To comment or view the plan, visit the Federal Register Announcement.

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About the Author

Alex Saurman is the Content Editor for Environmental Protection.

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