Letter to Jeanne Shaheen, Chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, Jerry Moran, Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies - Padilla, Durbin Lead Colleagues in Advocating for Funding for DOJ's Newly Established Office of Environmental Justice


Dear Chair Shaheen and Ranking Member Moran:

As you develop the Fiscal Year 2023 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies subcommittee appropriations bill, we write to request that you meet or exceed the environmental justice funding included in the FY 23 Budget Request submitted by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Specifically, we request that you provide at least $1.4 million to support the newly created Office for Environmental Justice at DOJ and allocate an additional $6.5 million for DOJ's Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD).

Environmental hazards like air, water, and land pollution disproportionately affect communities that have been historically marginalized, such as Tribal communities, low-income populations, and communities of color. Many of these communities have been further neglected by decades of underinvestment in housing, transportation, water and wastewater infrastructure, and health care. We welcome the DOJ's announcement that they are launching a new Office of Environmental Justice and are eager to provide DOJ with the necessary resources to advance equitable investments, hold polluters accountable, and support historically marginalized communities. By providing at least $1.4 million for the Office of Environmental Justice, Congress can ensure environmental justice is at the forefront of DOJ's enforcement work while allowing for improved engagement between DOJ and affected communities. We further look forward to advancing legislation to codify the office into law and give DOJ the tools it needs to be effective in its work.

In accordance with the President's Budget Request, we also request no less than $6.5 million in new funding for DOJ's Environment and Natural Resources Division, which protects public health and welfare by enforcing the nation's environmental laws like the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, safeguarding our natural resources, advancing Tribal sovereignty and resource protection, and more. It is essential that ENRD has the resources it needs to hold polluters accountable for environmental crimes and to better work with communities on the front lines of the climate and environmental justice crises.

Supporting DOJ's community engagement and enforcement of environmental and civil rights laws is critical as we work to mitigate the climate crisis and reduce environmental burdens. We believe this funding will bolster DOJ's ability to secure environmental justice for our communities and allow all Americans to live pollution free.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.