On February 22, 2018, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced that the Department of Justice is opening an environmental justice office within the Environment Section: the Bureau of Environmental Justice (“Bureau”). “The Bureau’s mission will be to protect people and communities that endure a disproportionate share of environmental pollution and public health hazards.” Using existing federal and state statutes, the Bureau will accomplish its mission through targeted oversight, investigation, and enforcement actions.
According to the press release, the Bureau’s oversight and enforcement work will focus on:
- Ensuring compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) and land use planning laws;
- Remediating contaminated drinking water;
- Eliminating or reducing exposure to lead and other toxins in the environment and consumer products;
- Challenging the federal government’s actions that repeal or reduce public health and environmental protections; and
- Penalizing and preventing illegal discharges to air and water from facilities located in communities already burdened disproportionately with pollution.