Groundtruth: EJ & ESG, Intersected

In the seventh episode of "Groundtruth," the Co-Chairs of Beveridge & Diamond's Environmental Justice practiceStacey Sublett Halliday and Julius Redd (Washington, DC), briefly recap recent EJ policy developments, the launch of the Council on Environmental Quality's Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST), and what’s to come.

They then talk with two EJ leaders from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Matthew Tejada, Director of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, and Samantha Phillips Beers, Director of the EPA Region III Office of Communities, Tribes, and Environmental Assessment. They discuss how EPA defines environmental, social, and governance (ESG); how companies can advance EJ through comprehensive ESG programs; and how such initiatives can be reported and evaluated in a meaningful way.

"ESG is an attempt to quantify and display the risks and opportunities that can impact a company's ability to create long-term fiduciary value. So, there's three pillars: Environment, which includes climate change, natural resources, and environmental justice principles - pollution and waste and environmental opportunities; Social, which includes labor, products, safety, and data security; and of course, Governance. For me, Governance is where the rubber meets the road. It's all about accountability of the Board for the company's practices."

Samantha Phillips Beers

"You have to invest in environmental justice. Environmental justice is not the meeting at the local library that you send your baby lawyer or your junior engineer to on a Wednesday night and expect that to count as meaningfully engaging the community... Environmental justice is a practice. It is a profession. It is something that takes skill. It is something that takes experience. It is something that takes an acute level of emotional intelligence that most professions never scratch the surface of. And until business and industry invests in a practice of environmental justice in the same way that business and industry invests in engineering, lawyering, or in science, you're not going to get there."

— Matthew Tejada

“Groundtruth” is a podcast series, produced in partnership with the Environmental Law Institute’s People Places Planet Podcast, that explores EJ trends and developments. Listen to other “Groundtruth” episodes:

Beveridge & Diamond Associate Hilary Jacobs (Washington, DC) led the content development for this episode.

Follow The Environmental Law Podcast on Spotify or your preferred podcast app. To receive B&D’s updates on EJ developments and trends, subscribe to our email list here or follow us on LinkedIn at #bdlawEJ.