Environmental Justice Frequently Asked Questions

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Email questions about environmental justice at BOEM to: environmental.justice@boem.gov 

How do BOEM’s environmental justice efforts relate to sharing of benefits with disadvantaged communities identified in Executive Order (E.O.) 14008, Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad? 

The Justice40 Initiative is part of a whole-of-government approach for advancing environmental justice. The initiative focuses on how certain Federal investments are made, and how certain program investments might be made toward the goal that at least 40 percent of the overall benefits of such investments flow to disadvantaged communities. E.O. 14008 on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad requires the development of a scorecard to track implementation of Justice40 and how agencies maximize the distribution of benefits to disadvantaged communities.

BOEM’s contribution to Justice40 is the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP), which falls within the “Training and Workforce Development” category. ANSEP involves cooperative agreements that provide training and learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to primarily middle and high school Native American and Alaska Native students. ANSEP helps students expand their employment preparedness to be better equipped to help their communities work with federal resource management agencies in the future and potentially contribute to a more diversified pool of highly educated professionals exploring future career opportunities at BOEM. ANSEP also holds resume and technical skill building workshops for students to help prepare them for applications for internship and career opportunities. Though the majority of ANSEP students are Native American or Alaska Native, the program does not exclude students based on ethnicity. Benefits are measured by the number of students enrolled, trainings held, career fairs attended, and number of students reached.

What can/should BOEM do to ensure equitable distribution of benefits? 

There are many benefits to be realized from a transition to a renewable energy economy, including jobs, training, economic development, and the mitigation of adverse climate impacts. BOEM is creatively using the tools within our regulatory toolbox to facilitate benefits flowing to underserved and disadvantaged communities. For example, BOEM incorporated lease stipulations into the New York Bight, Carolina Long Bay, and California offshore wind Final Sale Notices that: 1) require developers to make every reasonable effort to enter into project labor agreements for the construction phase of their projects, and 2) submit to BOEM a semi-annual report on engagement activities with Tribes, underserved communities, and other ocean users, and how those activities informed their projects.

The California Final Sale Notice also provided for bidding credits for developers that enter into Community Benefit Agreements and invest in workforce training opportunities, a domestic supply chain, or both. BOEM cannot achieve this critical objective on its own. Other entities outside  of BOEM play a critical role in facilitating the equitable distribution of benefits, and BOEM will continue to collaborate with other Federal agencies, States, developers, and community organizations in this effort.

How does BOEM consider the downstream impacts of offshore energy activities, and whether they would add significantly to the impacts communities are already experiencing? 

BOEM carefully analyzes the potential impacts of BOEM-authorized activities, including potential impacts on coastal communities, as part of our mandate to balance offshore energy production with protection of the human, marine, and coastal environments. BOEM also engages with communities, including underserved and environmental justice communities, to learn more about their concerns and potential impacts from BOEM-authorized activities, and ways to work collaboratively with communities to avoid, minimize, or mitigate identified impacts.

BOEM also studies environmental justice issues through the Environmental Studies Program. Two studies on the 2023-2024 National Studies List center on environmental justice:   

Do policies and executive orders related to environmental justice require BOEM to make certain decisions? 

According to E.O. 14096, “Consistent with section 1–101 of Executive Order 12898 and each agency’s statutory authority, each agency should make achieving environmental justice part of its mission.” Section 3, Government-Wide Approach to Environmental Justice, in E.O. 14096, identifies a number of responsibilities that agencies must meet, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law. Under E.O. 14096, BOEM must identify and address “disproportionate and adverse human health and environmental effects (including risks) and hazards of Federal activities, including those related to climate change and cumulative impacts of environmental and other burdens on communities with environmental justice concerns.” Both E.O. 12898 and E.O. 14096 also direct agencies like BOEM to ensure greater public participation by communities with environmental justice concerns in agency decision processes. 

Under NEPA, identification of disproportionately adverse human health or environmental effects on communities with environmental justice concerns does not preclude a proposed action from going forward, nor does it necessarily compel a conclusion that a proposed action is environmentally unsatisfactory. However, BOEM would address environmental justice concerns in its analysis and consider these issues when developing appropriate alternatives, areas for withdrawal from leasing, mitigation strategies, and monitoring needs.