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Tackling Disparities Through the Justice40 Initiative

ARS Looks To Address Issues of Environmental Justice and Climate Change

Low-income communities across the country have been severely affected by climate change, water and air pollution, and other issues related to environmental justice. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” To correct these disparities, the Biden administration launched the Justice40 Initiative, which aims “to deliver overall benefits from federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities.”

The Justice40 initiative represents the first time an administration has tried to target 40 percent of federal investments to benefit disadvantaged communities. These disadvantaged communities are overburdened by pollution and have historically been marginalized by society. Justice40 initiative investments are focused on climate change, clean energy, and affordable and sustainable housing.

The initiative is aligning the efforts of multiple agencies to assist communities that are affected by climate change, through investments in clean energy, carbon reduction, and other programs. Sarah Beebout, Rachel Steele, and Ellen Buckley are leading the effort within the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and partnering with other federal agencies to respond to this Executive Order.

Dr. Beebout is a National Program Leader for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, which is one of fifteen national programs within ARS. She notes, “It’s our role to make sure that research programs are aligned with stakeholder needs across the country.” ARS plays two roles within the Justice40 Initiative. First, we are expanding our outreach to underserved communities, and we are conducting extensive research in the areas of climate change and clean energy.

“Programs such as the ARS 1890 Land-Grant University Faculty Research Sabbatical Program, and our scientific outreach activities to underserved communities help us to reach more and different people”, Rachel Steele noted. “Our research will also help these disadvantaged communities manage the effects of climate change.”

ARS is also assisting farmers in fighting climate change. “The research that we do helps disadvantaged communities adapt to and mitigate climate change on their own farms,” Beebout said.

For more information on the Justice40 initiative, visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/environmentaljustice/justice40/.

By Fiona Hernandez, ARS’s Office of Communications

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