A judge's gavel set down on a table.

Development of Environmental Justice Sections and Initiatives in Attorney General Offices

State attor­neys gen­er­al have pri­or­i­tized envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice in the devel­op­ment, imple­men­ta­tion and enforce­ment of envi­ron­men­tal statutes and reg­u­la­tions by estab­lish­ing envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice divi­sions and ini­tia­tives with­in their offices.

Envi­ron­men­tal Jus­tice Sections

In Feb­ru­ary 2018, Cal­i­for­nia Attor­ney Gen­er­al Xavier Becer­ra announced the estab­lish­ment of a Bureau of Envi­ron­men­tal Jus­tice with­in the Envi­ron­men­tal Sec­tion at the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Jus­tice. The Bureau uses over­sight, inves­ti­ga­tion and enforce­ment of the law to pro­tect peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties that suf­fer a dis­pro­por­tion­ate share of envi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion and pub­lic health hazards.

Sim­i­lar­ly, in Decem­ber 2018, New Jer­sey Attor­ney Gen­er­al Gur­bir Gre­w­al cre­at­ed a new unit with­in the New Jer­sey Depart­ment of Jus­tice called the Envi­ron­men­tal Enforce­ment and Envi­ron­men­tal Jus­tice Sec­tion. The Sec­tion will use both cur­rent and new resources to bring enforce­ment actions and pro­mote envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice across New Jersey.

Envi­ron­men­tal Jus­tice Initiatives

In April 2020, Wash­ing­ton Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son launched a new envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice ini­tia­tive, part­ner­ing with Gon­za­ga Uni­ver­si­ty to hold an envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice sym­po­sium in 2021 focus­ing on strength­en­ing envi­ron­men­tal poli­cies and enforce­ment with mean­ing­ful involve­ment from the peo­ple affect­ed most by envi­ron­men­tal issues. Attor­ney Gen­er­al Fer­gu­son also announced that he is ele­vat­ing the Coun­sel for Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Unit to the per­ma­nent Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Divi­sion with the goal of pro­tect­ing res­i­dents and the envi­ron­ment by bring­ing affir­ma­tive civ­il and crim­i­nal lit­i­ga­tion on behalf of Washingtonians.

In Sep­tem­ber 2020, New Mex­i­co Attor­ney Gen­er­al Hec­tor Balderas announced that his office is launch­ing an ini­tia­tive focused on equi­ty and access to jus­tice con­cerns for minor­i­ty com­mu­ni­ties in the nat­ur­al resources and envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion are­nas. The Office of the Attor­ney Gen­er­al (OAG) appoint­ed an advi­so­ry coun­cil com­prised of rep­re­sen­ta­tives for mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties. The coun­cil will engage a wide range of stake­hold­ers from these com­mu­ni­ties and make rec­om­men­da­tions to the OAG for direct engage­ment of state and fed­er­al agen­cies to address issues of racism and equi­ty in nat­ur­al resources and envi­ron­men­tal policy.