January 28, 2020


“If frontline communities are not at the center of our efforts on climate change, we will repeat the mistakes of past generations.”

Washington, D.C. – After the House Energy and Commerce Committee today released draft text of the CLEAN Future Act, Congressman Joe Kennedy III applauded the legislation’s initial effort, while urging his committee to expedite its timeline and sharpen its focus on climate justice and frontline communities. 

“Climate change threatens our environment, our economy, our health, our national security and our very existence. The CLEAN Future Act is an important addition to the most urgent debate facing Congress today. The proposed bill acknowledges and addresses many of the root causes of our climate crisis and offers some thoughtful solutions. However, I believe the timeline must be ambitious – the science is clear that we cannot wait any longer to achieve net-zero emissions.

“For generations the impact of our failure to tackle climate change has disproportionately fallen on black, brown, immigrant, Native and low-income communities. From asthma rates to heat islands, flood zones, toxic infrastructure and food deserts, frontline communities across this country bear the scars of our inaction. Any policy choices we make moving forward must be more than intersectional about our future – they must be deeply intentional about remedying the injustices of our past.

“With that in mind, I encourage the Committee to significantly expand the scope of climate and environmental justice policies in the CLEAN Future Act, including consideration of the following:

  • Creation of an independent Office of Environmental Justice within the DOJ to review environmental justice complaints and hold corporate polluters accountable for environmental destruction and discrimination.
  • Rigorous monitoring of concentrated pollution and environmental harm on frontline communities through the EPA.
  • Creation of a federal Climate Justice Resiliency Fund to protect vulnerable communities and build climate-safe infrastructure.
  • Funding for an Equity Impact Mapping initiative to identify community-level data on disparate racial and socioeconomic patterns of pollution exposure, proximity to environmental hazards, and climate change-related health impacts.
  • Require that environmental and climate-related legislation receive an equity score, similar to a CBO economic score, to estimate its impact on frontline communities, as proposed by Senator Kamala Harris and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the Climate Equity Act.
  • Increase grant funding available through the national Hazard Mitigation Planning Program to help disadvantaged frontline communities reduce the hazards they face.
  • Mandate at least 40% of federal clean energy investments be targeted toward frontline communities to empower local leadership, build wealth, and support community-driven initiatives.

“Climate action in this body has fallen short because we failed to build the diverse coalitions necessary to galvanize reform and excluded the voices that should be at the center of this debate. Federal policymakers have repeatedly treated the fight for clean water, clean air and a clean environment as a priority only for those with the resources to make it one. If we are going to continue to build the movement and political will for the climate response this generation needs, Congress must avoid the mistakes of the past and commit to setting the standard when it comes to justice for frontline communities.”


For Immediate Release:
January 28, 2020

Dan Black (202) 225-5931