The AAMC Center for Health Justice submitted comments to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on Dec. 12, 2023,and to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on Dec. 15 in response to two separate requests for information (RFI) on advancing environmental justice across the federal government. Both RFIs are in furtherance of the April 2023 executive order Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All.
In its letter to OSTP, the center recommended the development of common environmental justice principles, terms, and definitions, including coordinated mechanisms to share information and data across federal agencies conducting environmental justice research. The center also emphasized the need for bidirectional pathways for community input on environmental justice activities with a focus on building and maintaining public trust with those communities.
Given the significant topical overlap with the OSTP’s RFI, the Center for Health Justice offered many of the same recommendations in its letter to the NIH. However, given the NIH’s interest in creating a diverse and inclusive workforce, the center emphasized the need to follow the progress of the Department of Health and Human Services’ proposed amendments to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which includes an update to the definition of “disability” to ensure NIH policies, programs, and strategic plans reflect the key changes in this proposed rule if finalized [refer to Washington Highlights, Nov. 17, 2023].