Biden’s New Environmental Justice Advisory Council Prioritizes Intersectional Approach to Climate Issues » WDET 101.9 FM

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It’s Earth Day, and to celebrate, the Biden administration is announcing new plans to tackle infrastructure, climate change and environmental justice. Researchers and policymakers are paying more attention to how racial and social inequalities are affected by the climate crisis. The Biden administration hopes to approach climate from a more holistic perspective and address growing disparities by creating a White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

Listen: The role of the new White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.


Kyle Whyte is the George Willis Pack Professor of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan. He is also one of 26 members of the new White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council. For him, environmental justice is a matter of fairness. “Environmental justice means a situation where everyone benefits from a clean, healthy and safe environment, as well as an environment where people can practice their own culture,” says Whyte.

He adds that the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council has given those directly affected by environmental exposures a seat at the table. “This is the first time you’ve had a group in the White House…where most of the board members are people from the communities that have been most burdened by environmental issues,” Whyte says of the composition of the council.

According to Whyte, the group is working on three areas of reform. The first being a review of a 1994 executive order that requires federal agencies to deal with environmental justice. The advice is also focusing on targeting infrastructure investments to alleviate existing disparities. Finally, Whyte says the group is studying the effectiveness of existing screening tools used to assess environmental justice concerns.

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Teresa H. Sadler