Statement by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Earth Day
On April 22, 1970, millions of people across America came together and sparked a movement that led to the enactment of many of our nation’s foundational environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Today, as billions of people around the world celebrate Earth Day, I want to acknowledge Department of Justice attorneys, investigators, and professional staff who work every day to advance the cause of justice by enforcing those laws.
Although environmental crime and injustice can happen anywhere, communities of color, low-income communities, and tribal communities often bear the highest burden of the harm caused by environmental crime, pollution, and climate change. Earlier this week, I was proud to join EPA Administrator Michael Regan in announcing the nation’s first-ever Environmental Crime Victim Assistance Program.
This joint effort, which will empower environmental crime victims to participate fully and equally in our justice system, was developed and will be coordinated by the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and the EPA, with financial support from DOJ’s Office for Victims of Crime. The program will help ensure that victims of federal environmental crimes are properly identified, that their rights are protected, and that they receive the services and support they need — from the opening of an investigation through the final adjudication of the case.
For 151 years, the Justice Department’s mission has been to ensure equal justice under law. On this 51st Earth Day celebration, we honor our mission by advancing the cause of environmental justice.