President Joe Biden will grade the U.S. military and all other government agencies on their "efforts to advance environmental justice" through a new scorecard that tracks their work to fight climate change and deliver "environmental and health benefits to disadvantaged communities."
Biden on Friday morning announced the U.S. government's "first-ever Environmental Justice Scorecard," a "new government-wide assessment of federal agencies' efforts to advance environmental justice." Included in the project is the Department of Defense, which Biden will grade on its work to address "environmental, climate-related, and cumulative impacts on communities with environmental justice concerns."
The department's first scorecard highlights some of that work. The Navy, for example, organized the traffic flow at one of its docks at Pearl Harbor in a way that "minimizes impacts on historically overburdened communities," according to the scorecard. The Navy also adjusted a "modernization project" at its Fallon Range Training Complex, which hosts pre-deployment combat training for both air and ground forces, to "respond to several Tribal concerns," the card says. The scorecard goes on to commend the Department of Defense for hosting "40 internal training(s) for staff on environmental justice" and hiring "at least 640 staff that work on environmental justice," though it does ding the department for not updating its "environmental justice strategic plan" in the last five years.
Biden has placed the fight against climate change at the center of his administration, but the effort does not stop with the Democrat's Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency. That's because Biden in January 2021 issued an executive order calling on all government agencies to "combat the climate crisis with bold, progressive action." Federal agencies from the Department of Justice to the Department of Veterans Affairs responded by releasing "Climate Action" plans, which outline how the agencies will "incorporate climate adaptation considerations" and "comprehensively consider environmental justice" in their daily work.
For Florida Republican congressman Mike Waltz, Biden has gone "way too far" in applying the administration's climate initiatives to the military.
"While it's essential we ensure our military bases are resilient, the Biden administration is again taking things way too far," Waltz told the Washington Free Beacon. "Our country faces more threats than ever before and now our military will be forced to take their focus off lethality to ensure they make some sort of environmental justice scorecard? It's absurd."
The White House, which did not return a request for comment, announced the scorecard as part of an executive order aimed at "further embedding environmental justice into the work of federal agencies." During her Friday press briefing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre struggled to explain how the order would help vulnerable Americans recovering from a toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, instead opting to tout Biden's "most ambitious climate agenda."
Q: What does Biden's environmental justice announcement mean for East Palestine?
KJP:"What's important to note about this environmental justice EO is the president's continued support in his climate agenda. His ambitious climate agenda. He has the most ambitious climate agenda." pic.twitter.com/d8bzI0Ok1J
— Washington Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) April 21, 2023
Still, Biden has spent big on environmental justice in recent weeks. Earlier this month, for example, his administration pledged to spend up to $1 billion in taxpayer funds to promote "equitable access to trees," an effort it said would "advance environmental justice" and fight climate change.
In some cases, Biden's expensive, whole-of-government approach to climate change has prompted criticism from Republicans for what they say is wasteful spending. Biden's U.S. Agency for International Development, for example, last year released its 2022-2030 climate strategy, which details a $150 billion "whole-of-Agency approach" to building an "equitable world with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions." Included in the effort is a pledge to inspire and support young climate activists in developing countries and help those activists address the "climate-related mental health conditions" they suffer from, the Free Beacon reported in March. Congressional Republicans hammered Biden in response, with Florida senator Rick Scott calling the policy "the definition of America last."
"American tax dollars should be spent supporting Americans, not overseas climate activists," Scott said.
This is not the first time Biden has faced criticism for his "woke military," with Republicans arguing that left-wing politics are distracting America's armed forces from their "core mission" to fight and win wars. In one case, the Department of Defense in November issued a "Climate Literacy" questionnaire, which asked service members whether they have the "right amount of knowledge/information on climate change" needed to perform their duties and if they are "integrating climate change considerations" into their "regular responsibilities." Alabama Republican congressman Mike Rogers trashed the poll, accusing the Department of Defense of "wasting our service members' time with surveys on climate change."
"The military should not be distracted from its mission of maintaining the most lethal and capable force in the world," Rogers told Fox News.