Acting United States Attorney Jacquelyn M. Kasulis Announces Formation of Environmental Justice Team in the Office’s Civil Division
The Team’s Focus Will Include Child Lead Exposure, Clean Air, and the Protection of Groundwater, Surface Waters and Wetlands Across New York City and Long Island
(STL.News) Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced today the creation of the Environmental Justice Team. The Environmental Justice Team, comprised of seven Civil Division Assistant U.S. Attorneys, including the Civil Division Chief of Environmental Litigation, reinforces the Office’s focus on protecting the rights of residents of the Eastern District of New York who are disproportionately burdened by environmental and health hazards. The Office has responsibility for the enforcement of our nation’s laws in the Eastern District of New York, which encompasses three of the five boroughs of New York City – Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island – and Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island. The Eastern District of New York encompasses approximately eight million people.
The Office is creating this team in recognition of President Joseph Biden’s directive in Executive Order 14008, which mandates that “[a]gencies shall make achieving environmental justice part of their missions by developing programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionately high and adverse human health, environmental, climate-related and other cumulative impacts on disadvantaged communities, as well as the accompanying economic challenges of such impacts.” Among the areas that the Environmental Justice Team will focus on are child lead exposure, clean air, and the protection of groundwater, surface waters, and wetlands across New York City and Long Island.
In announcing the formation of the Environmental Justice Team, Acting United States Attorney Kasulis stated, “I am proud to announce the formation of our Environmental Justice Team, which will enhance the Office’s longstanding commitment to environmental enforcement by addressing disproportionate environmental, health, economic and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities. The Environmental Justice Team is a critical part of the Office’s longstanding commitment to fighting pollution and climate change. This Office will continue to vigorously enforce federal environmental laws and hold polluters accountable.”
“For too long, the lived experience of many communities whose residents are predominantly of color, Indigenous, or low-income is that they suffer from disproportionately high pollution levels that result in adverse health and environmental impacts,” stated EPA Acting Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan. “The creation of this Environmental Justice Team is a positive step forward to strengthen the enforcement of our bedrock environmental laws and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to ensure violations in environmental justice communities are promptly identified and corrected, and that appropriate penalties are imposed as a deterrent against future violations. Environmental justice is a central driving factor in all that we all do.”
The Office will continue to partner and coordinate with the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as client agencies across the federal government.
The Environmental Justice Team is led by Civil Division Chief of Environmental Litigation Matthew Silverman; the Environmental Justice Team is made up of Senior Litigation Counsel Deborah Zwany and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ekta R. Dharia, Kathleen Mahoney, Thomas Price, Shana C. Priore and Alex Weinberg. The Environmental Justice Team is overseen by Civil Division Acting Chief Joseph A. Marutollo and Civil Division Deputy Chief Richard K. Hayes.
The Office previously announced the creation of a Civil Rights Team in the Office’s Civil Division, which is comprised of the Civil Division Chief of Civil Rights, four Civil Division Assistant U.S. Attorneys, and a Civil Rights investigator. The Civil Rights Team’s focus will be on protecting the rights of the most vulnerable residents of the Eastern District of New York, especially those in disadvantaged communities. The Environmental Justice Team will be coordinating its work with the Civil Rights Team.