January 30, 2023

Senator Duckworth Joins Senator Markey, Representative Bush in Letter to Biden Administration Recommending an Environmental Justice Scorecard


[WASHINGTON, D.C.]—Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chair of the U.S. Senate’s Environmental Justice Caucus, joined U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA), U.S. Representative Cori Bush (D-MO-01) and other Congressional colleagues in a letter to White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Brenda Mallory providing recommendations for developing a comprehensive, accessible and transparent Environmental Justice (EJ) Scorecard to measure and monitor the progress federal agencies have made in advancing environmental justice. In August 2022, CEQ issued a request for information soliciting feedback in developing an EJ Scorecard—as directed by an Executive Order issued by President Biden early in his term.

“As strong supporters of environmental justice, we understand that the first version of the EJ Scorecard will establish a baseline by which to measure progress toward our shared environmental justice goals,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter to CEQ Chair Mallory. “We urge CEQ to develop a scorecard that is transparent and accessible, incorporates available data that measures and illustrates the effectiveness of federal funding in EJ communities, incorporates community-produced data, and presents the data in an actionable way so that agencies can use them to drive rulemakings and investments.”

Specifically, the lawmakers’ recommendations stress the need for CEQ to provide the public access to the forthcoming EJ Scorecard through partnerships with public libraries, community centers and non-profit organizations and to ensure that stakeholders, regardless of disability status or language barriers, can meaningfully participate in the EJ scoring process through regional in-person, virtual and hybrid feedback opportunities. In the letter, the lawmakers asked that CEQ include a wide variety of metrics and qualitative feedback in the scorecard, including quantifiable community engagement opportunities and track agency spending in order to evaluate which communities are benefiting from federal funding. The lawmakers also affirmed the need for CEQ to gather feedback from communities on the Biden administration’s Justice40 programs and other federal investments as part of the EJ scoring process.

“In the long term, the EJ Scorecard should measure and show how the entire federal government integrates community input, and how that reform served communities and improved their economic, health, and environmental conditions,” the lawmakers concluded.

Last year, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2022 which included several of Duckworth’s environmental justice provisions that would establish a federal advisory committee on environmental justice at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), reduce the cost share for restoration projects that benefit economically disadvantaged communities and enhance workforce development in STEM and water infrastructure with a focus on diversity and outreach in disadvantaged communities. In 2021, Duckworth’s bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act (DWWIA) was signed into law as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help rebuild our nation’s crumbling and dangerous water infrastructure. Additionally, Duckworth introduced the Environmental Justice for All Act, comprehensive legislation to achieve health equity and climate justice for all, particularly underserved communities and communities of color that have long been disproportionately harmed by environmental injustices and toxic pollutants. Duckworth is also the co-founder of the U.S. Senate’s first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus, which focuses on advocating for communities that have been disproportionately impacted by environmental injustices.

Full text of the letter is available here.