HHS announces new office of environmental justice

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Tuesday announced an Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) within the department to address climate-related health issues particularly those affecting poor and marginalized Americans.


The office, which will be under the aegis of the HHS Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, will be responsible for developing the department’s broader environmental health strategies and coordinating its annual environmental justice reports, according to HHS.


The department is seeking public comment on its implementation plan for the new office through June 18.


“By creating this new office and prioritizing environmental justice at HHS, Secretary [Xavier] Becerra is undertaking the type of bold institutional reform that is desperately needed to deliver clean air and clean water for all communities,” White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory said in a statement.


“Today’s announcement is a key step toward confronting environmental injustice – in all of its heartbreaking forms – with the full force and commitment of the Federal government.”


Becerra announced the launch of the broader Office of Climate Change and Health Equity last August after a January executive order by President Biden laid the groundwork for its creation.


Still unclear is how the new office and initiative will be funded.