White House environmental justice advisers express opposition to nuclear, carbon capture projects

Source: By Rachel Frazin, The Hill • Posted: Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council expressed opposition to nuclear and carbon capture projects as well as projects that expand capacity for fossil fuel production in a report issued Friday.

The volunteer advisory council listed such projects as among “examples of the types of projects that will not benefit a community,” in a set of recommendations issued to the White House.

The recommendations issued by the council, which is made up of leaders in the environmental justice movement, are meant to advise the Biden administration, but don’t necessarily reflect administration policy.

In fact, the opposition appears to be somewhat at odds with policies the administration has backed, like President Biden’s promotion of a carbon capture tax credit in his infrastructure plan.

The report did not specify why the advisory panel considers such projects not to be beneficial, but opponents have raised concerns about nuclear waste.

Carbon capture’s opponents have expressed skepticism about the still-developing technology aiming to capture the greenhouse gas from activities like burning fossil fuels. They argue that the government shouldn’t be boosting the fossil fuel industry.

Proponents of the technologies see them as methods for generating power in a cleaner way.

The approximately 90-page report broadly endorsed transformative investments in capacity building, technical assistance and consultation for communities that have been historically underserved.

The report also puts forth specific policies and programs that the council believes should be included in President Biden’s pledge to have 40 percent of the benefits of his environmental policies go to disadvantaged communities, called Justice40.

These include promoting rooftop solar in low-income areas, taking steps to protect workers from things like heat and pesticides, and increasing air pollution monitoring.

“Justice40 must start today,” said a letter by panel co-chairs Richard Moore and Peggy Shepard.

In a statement on the report, Brenda Mallory, the administration official who chairs the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said that she looks forward to “reviewing these recommendations and to working with my colleagues across the federal government and with Congress to follow through on the President’s commitments to address long-standing environmental injustices.”