April 30, 2024

Duckworth Applauds Biden Administration for Prioritizing Environmental Justice in NEPA Phase II Update


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)—co-founder and co-chair of the Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucusissued the following statement after the Biden Administration’s Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) took action to include strong climate change and environmental justice considerations in its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) final update to Phase II regulations. Senator Duckworth and House Committee on Natural Resources Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ-07) helped lead the call for these improvements last year, along with nearly 100 Members of Congress:

“After leading the charge for improvements to this rule, I’m pleased the Biden Administration heeded our call and continues building on its progress to support environmental justice communities in this latest NEPA update. This update won’t just help restore and strengthen considerations as well as protections for overburdened communities that were bulldozed by the Trump Administration, but it would also help ensure communities’ input are better taken into account early and throughout the NEPA permitting process. While this is a good move from the Administration, I will continue working closely with the relevant agencies to help improve the lives of front-line communities and make sure this rule is implemented efficiently, effectively and equitably in a way that protects the health of all Americans.”

Duckworth is a fierce advocate for environmental justice communities. Recently, along with her Senate Environmental Justice Caucus co-chairs U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), Duckworth urged the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations’ leadership to appropriate funding that fulfills the more than $10 billion requested for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in President Biden’s FY2025 Budget so the agency can continue to prioritize environmental justice by cleaning up legacy pollution, promoting justice and equity and fostering economic empowerment in low-income communities, communities of color and tribal communities throughout the country.

Last year, Duckworth re-introduced the A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice For All Act—the most comprehensive environmental justice legislation in history—which would help achieve health equity and climate justice for all, particularly in underserved communities and communities of color that have long been disproportionately harmed by environmental injustices and toxic pollutants. In 2021, Duckworth’s bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA)—the most significant federal investment in our nation’s aging water infrastructure—was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, prioritizing funding for disadvantaged communities and helping to replace lead service lines throughout Illinois and across the country. Duckworth also led a subcommittee field hearing in Chicago on the implementation of DWWIA and the importance of replacing lead service lines in an equitable and efficient manner.