In response to an executive order announced today creating a new White House Office of Environmental Justice, American Forests President and CEO Jad Daley released the following statement:
President Biden’s Executive Order creating the White House Office of Environmental Justice is a monumental commitment to advancing equity, moving us one step closer to ensuring all communities have access to more equitable environments and health outcomes.
Critically, the new office will prioritize the use of science and data to guide decision making. We know from our own data and American Forests’ Tree Equity Score, which has collected information for 150,000 urbanized neighborhoods in over 4,500 cities and towns in the contiguous U.S., that urban tree coverage is too often a story of race and income. Data like this will be critical to advance environmental justice initiatives and identify gaps in understanding, helping ensure communities receive the numerous health, environmental and economic benefits provided by trees.
American Forests is ready to support the Office of Environmental Justice and federal agencies to prioritize the needs of frontline communities. Expanding urban forest canopies will be an essential part of the equation, narrowing environmental inequities and providing communities with cleaner air and water, as well as temperature-reducing shade. The Office of Environmental Justice can play a critical role to ensure communities that have been disproportionately affected by environmental hazards are not left behind as we work to increase tree coverage and deliver these important benefits.
The announcement follows a recent series of investments in environmental justice and climate solutions made by the Biden-Harris Administration, including a historic $1.5 billion dedicated to the U.S. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. Just last week, we were proud to stand with the administration and U.S. Senator Cory Booker, a key champion in securing this unprecedented program funding, while the first round of grant funding for state and territory urban and community forestry projects was announced in Newark, N.J.
We applaud the Biden-Harris Administration’s continued commitment to equity and justice, and we look forward to continuing to work in partnership with all agencies to help get more life-saving trees where they are needed most.
ABOUT AMERICAN FORESTS: American Forests is the first national nonprofit conservation organization created in the U.S. Since its founding in 1875, the organization has been the pathfinders for the forest conservation movement. Its mission is to create healthy and resilient forests, from cities to large natural landscapes, that deliver essential benefits for climate, people, water and wildlife. The organization advances its mission through forestry, innovation, place-based partnerships to plant and restore forests, and movement building. For more information visit: www.americanforests.org.