On February 16, President Biden issued Executive Order 14091: Further Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, a sweeping executive order directing federal agencies to increase efforts to advance their equity initiatives.
Executive Order 14091, the latest among the Biden White House’s equity and environmental justice-related directives, furthers the administration’s equity agenda by laying out an ambitious range of programs, from investing in rural and urban communities traditionally lacking access to the benefits of federal programs and policies, to eliminating unjust disparities in the criminal justice system, to rooting out discrimination in health and housing. Its multi-pronged approach includes:
- Requiring nearly every federal agency to create “Agency Equity Teams” tasked with coordinating the implementation of equity initiatives in their programs and policies.
- Establishing the White House Steering Committee on Equity, which will coordinate government-wide equity-advancement initiatives.
- Requiring the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) Director to review its processes to support a more equitable decision-making process and to equitably distribute financial and technical assistance.
- Requiring federal agencies to ramp up engagement with underserved communities on programs and policies that impact them.
- Requiring agencies to expand procurement for socially and economically disadvantaged businesses under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, and other federal financial assistance programs.
- Requiring agencies to use their civil rights authorities to address discrimination, which includes “increas[ing] the effects of civil rights enforcement” and increasing public awareness of civil rights issues.
The Executive Order has broad implications, leading environmental justice efforts across federal agencies and seeking to ensure that disadvantaged communities fully participate in the economic opportunities presented by previous Biden Administrative actions (see previous VNF alerts for information on the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law). This also means applicants for federal permits or federal funding should take into account environmental justice considerations in agency actions, including funding decisions.
See our full alert on Executive Order 14091 here.