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Biden Executive Orders Prioritize Climate, Environmental Justice


Wednesday, January 27, 2021   

RALEIGH, N.C. -- President Joe Biden will release a slew of executive orders aimed at curbing pollution, conserving natural lands, and addressing environmental injustice.

Among the orders, he'll establish a new Office of Climate Change at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to address the overlap between global warming and public health, as well as forming a new National Climate Task Force.

Susannah Tuttle, director of North Carolina Interfaith Power and Light, said the actions are welcome, and convey the urgency of the climate crisis that many people face, especially those in coastal communities.

"The Biden administration is taking important action to protect the health of our communities, the public lands, oceans and waters we enjoy, the wildlife that we treasure and the future of our climate," Tuttle stated.

She pointed out research shows investing in clean energy will help create good jobs and spur long-term economic growth. She also noted the administration's actions are in step with Gov. Roy Cooper's statewide Clean Energy Plan, which calls for a 40% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2025.

President Biden will lay out a ten-year goal of conserving 30% of U.S. lands and oceans by 2030.

Tuttle predicted the move will help preserve habitats for plants and wildlife, contribute to cleaner air, and buffer the impacts of climate change.

"This is an inclusive and bold vision for safeguarding America's lands, waters, and wildlife, that will support the efforts of people across the country, including rural communities, tribal nations, private landowners, and many others on the front lines of conserving, stewarding, restoring, using and enjoying nature," Tuttle outlined.

She added every 30 seconds, a football field worth of America's natural land disappears due to urban sprawl, roads and other development.

Several of the executive orders target communities grappling with the worst effects of climate change along with systemic inequities. The new administration wants 40% of clean-energy investments to be directed toward these marginalized communities.

"This is the most ambitious plan to address the climate crisis in our nation's history," Tuttle asserted. "Central to this plan is the 'Justice 40,' prioritizing environmental justice and equitable economic opportunity."

An Environmental Protection Agency analysis found Black and Brown people in North Carolina are more likely than white residents to live within a mile of industries that release toxic pollution into their local environment.

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