Environmental justice is defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”
When discussing environmental justice as it relates to energy, terms such as energy justice and energy burden are top of mind. The US Department of Energy (DOE) defines energy burden as “the percentage of gross household income spent on energy costs.” Additionally, DOE states “The national average energy burden for low-income households is 8.6%, three times higher than for non-low-income households which is estimated at 3%. Per the US DOE’s Low-Income Energy Affordability Data (LEAD) Tool, the state’s energy burden for South Carolina’s low and moderate-income residents is as high as 24% in some counties.
In 2021, Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad was issued. Section 223 established the Justice40 Initiative. This initiative directs 40 percent of the benefits of Federal investments (including energy and transportation) to disadvantaged communities (DAC). The definition of DAC is being defined by each federal agency and program. See the links below for US Department of Energy, US Department of Transportation, US Environmental Protection agency, and White House resources.