The Biden Administration Tackles Environmental Justice
NEHA has been long involved with environmental justice. Our position statement, Role of Environmental Health in Addressing Racism as an Environmental Health Issue, recognizes that racism is a threat to public health. The statement promotes environmental justice. Our climate change activities discuss the issue of climate justice. Our Journal of Environmental Health has published several articles regarding environmental justice.
Most recently, we hosted a webinar on August 30, 2022, on environmental justice that featured Dr. Sharunda Buchanan, the interim director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Environmental Justice within the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH).
Bringing on Dr. Buchanan was one of the most important things that the administration has done regarding environmental justice. Dr. Buchanan comes from the National Center for Environmental Health within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention where she oversaw environmental justice efforts, health equity innovation, and various other large-scale, priority environmental health initiatives. Her new position allows her to continue these efforts.
At the Office of Environmental Justice, Dr. Buchanan has an ambitious agenda. Her office will:
- Serve as a department-wide hub for leading initiatives that integrate environmental justice into the HHS mission to improve health in communities across the nation.
- Protect the health of communities and groups that have been marginalized on the front lines of pollution and other environmental hazards that affect health.
- Serve as a resource for underserved and overlooked communities.
- Mobilize environmental justice efforts across the department.
- Develop and implement an environmental justice strategic plan.
- Strengthen efforts for the Justice40 Initiative at HHS.
- Assist and empower communities to address the disparities they face at a local level by providing tools and resources