WARREN COUNTY, NC -- Today, in a long-awaited step toward prioritizing communities disproportionately impacted by pollution and environmental racism, EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced the agency will create the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights, putting this critical issue in its rightful position alongside other EPA program offices.
Existing environmental justice and civil rights offices throughout EPA will merge to form the new office, which will be overseen by a Senate-confirmed assistant administrator announced at a later date.
Regan shared the announcement in Warren County, N.C., a low-income predominantly Black community whose protests over the state’s decision to dump contaminated soil into a landfill in a county overrepresented by landfills sparked the environmental justice movement 40 years ago.
“We’re pleased with the EPA’s announcement to merge their environmental justice and civil rights offices, and hope this action leads to meaningful change in historically environmentally overburdened and underserved communities across the country,” said Leslie Fields, Sierra Club National Director of Policy, Advocacy, and Legal. “This new office is a result of decades of work by environmental justice, civil rights, and environmental advocates, and today, we celebrate their efforts while acknowledging how far we have to go to achieve true justice.”
"We have been fighting for the EPA to address environmental justice for a long time, and the creation of this office is the result of tireless community efforts. For decades, we’ve partnered with supporters and volunteers in their advocacy in conservation of the natural environment, and we continue to work with communities adversely affected by climate change, willful corporate pollution, and environmental racism,” said Nicole Gaines, chair of the Sierra Club’s North Carolina Chapter. “We are uplifted by Administrator’s Regan’s decision to make this announcement from his home state of North Carolina, and champion communities at the forefront of environmental justice here and across the nation."
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.