Energy Climate Change, Environment
September 7th, 2023 2 Minute Read Press Release by James B. Meigs

New Report: Biden’s “Environmental Justice” Crusade

The White House agenda diverts focus and money from federal programs and undermines traditional environmental goals

New York, NY – This summer the Inflation Reduction Act celebrated its first anniversary. Along with boosting subsidies for green infrastructure, President Biden’s signature law put significant funding behind the administration’s commitment to the elusive concept of “environmental justice.” In a new Manhattan Institute report, senior fellow James Meigs offers a systematic analysis of the environmental justice paradigm, and details why its negative consequences promise to outweigh any modest positive contributions.

The environmental justice (EJ) movement began as the demand that minority communities are entitled to equal enforcement of environmental laws. Meigs documents how that reasonable stance evolved into the more radical philosophy now embraced by the Biden administration. The White House says it wants to put vaguely defined EJ goals “at the center of the federal government’s work.” It demands that 40 percent of the benefits from environmentally oriented programs must flow to specific disadvantaged communities where they can help solve an array of social ills. And it includes more than $3 billion in block grants to local activist groups, funding that some congressmembers fear could become a "slush fund for far-left organizations."

Chronicling key policies, agencies, and figures, Meigs identifies four core problems with Biden’s EJ Agenda:

  • It shifts resources away from traditional environmental goals: Expecting environmental programs to simultaneously address poverty, housing shortages, and other social ills undermines the ability to pursue traditional goals like clean air and water by introducing competing priorities.
  • It hampers government functions across the board: Grading all federal agencies on an Environmental Justice Scorecard creates new workload burdens for agency officials attempting to demonstrate compliance with vaguely specified requirements.
  • It undermines both environmental and economic progress: The proliferation of new offices, rules, and requirements creates bureaucratic hurdles for government and private action.
  • It embeds a far-left worldview within federal agencies: While most Americans agree with practical measures to protect the environment, the EJ movement’s more radical activists seek the overturning of free markets and other foundations of American society.

Read the full report here.


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