"The White House was widely criticized a year ago for not using racial demographics to identify disadvantaged communities that would be targeted for extra climate aid.
The nation’s leading advocates for environmental justice were furious, saying that race must be considered because biased policies like redlining had forced minorities into heavily polluted neighborhoods that are vulnerable to climate impacts.
But the colorblind approach has succeeded at prioritizing minority neighborhoods, an E&E News analysis shows.
The White House strategy comes as an unprecedented amount of attention is being given to environmental justice. In addition to the federal initiative, a dozen states are beginning to incorporate race into decisions about environmental spending and the location of polluting facilities.
While the White House chose to omit race and ethnicity as indicators in selecting disadvantaged communities, it analyzed dozens of environmental and demographic factors that in many cases are closely correlated with race, such as income levels and exposure to pollution.
The Biden administration used that methodology to avoid a legal confrontation with the Supreme Court, which appears poised to strike down racial preferences in college admissions and possibly in other areas. The administration’s race-neutral approach was crafted after federal judges in three separate rulings in 2021 blocked a debt-relief program for minority farmers that sought to compensate them for the Agriculture Department’s history of discrimination."