Politics White House details environmental benefits plan for disadvantaged communities
Biden administration says states can restart pandemic unemployment benefits as lawsuits mount
States that have terminated pandemic unemployment benefits early can restart the programs, but there may be a break in payments for some laid-off Americans, the Biden administration said Monday. © Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images A person files an application for unemployment benefits on April 16, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia. The guidance comes as jobless residents in more states file lawsuits to reinstate the benefits. Unemployed workers in Ohio and Oklahoma this month joined those in Indiana, Maryland and Texas in turning to state courts to force their governors to resume the payments.
The Biden administration has released new guidance kickstarting its plan to offer targeted benefits to communities disproportionately impacted by pollution and other negative environmental issues.
The White House has said it plans to deliver 40 percent of the environmental benefits of its actions to underprivileged communities. The issued Tuesday outlines the type of programs that would be included and factors for determining a "disadvantaged" community.
The order gives federal agencies 60 days to put together an assessment of which programs will be part of the initiative and what type of benefits they offer, as well as 150 days to create a way to calculate the benefits that are going to such communities.
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And it sets up a pilot initiative for 21 programs under which the agencies will have to engage stakeholders in 30 days, develop a draft implementation program in 60 days and create a way to calculate benefits for disadvantaged communities in 60 days.
"President Biden is committed to securing environmental justice and spurring economic opportunity for disadvantaged communities that have been historically marginalized and overburdened by pollution and underinvestment in housing, transportation, water and wastewater infrastructure, and health care," said the guidance memo, which was written by acting Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory and National Climate advisor Gina McCarthy.
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President Biden said in a January executive order that his administration would direct 40 percent of the secured environmental benefits to these communities, though Tuesday's guidance provides new details on how the initiative, known as "Justice40," will be implemented.
The guidance says that programs included as part of Justice40 can include those that deliver benefits on climate, clean energy, clean transportation, affordable and sustainable housing, clean water, pollution reduction and more.
It said that these benefits should go to communities including those that have low income or high poverty rates, have been subject to racial and ethnic segregation, those that have disproportionate environmental burdens, those that will lose jobs in the energy transition and those with high burdens because of the cost of housing, transportation or energy.
Programs that will be part of the accelerated pilot include those dealing with reducing lead in drinking water, hazardous waste cleanup, clean drinking water funds and weatherization and resilience assistance.
The guidance was created in consultation with members of a volunteer environmental justice advisory council, the memo said. This council's recommendations have in the past what the White House is pursuing, as it has previously expressed opposition to nuclear and carbon capture projects, which members of the Biden administration have supported.
How the US could help Australia develop climate action .
Australia is wedded to coal and gas and no divorce is in sight. A recent decision on one of Australia and the world's most important environmental assets, the Great Barrier Reef offers insight into this incestuous union.A few days ago, the World Heritage Committee ignored the scientific assessment from UNESCO that the Reef was clearly in danger from climate change and so should be placed on the in danger list from climate change.