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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The killing of George Floyd in police custody and protests against systemic racism are prompting many green groups to declare their support for racial justice, and one thing to watch now is how this all might influence Joe Biden's platform.

Driving the news: Even before the recent mass upheaval in response to Floyd's death, Biden said he was expanding outreach and eyeing wider plans around environmental justice, or the disproportionate pollution burdens facing poor communities and people of color.

  • But now the topic is growing even more prominent, which also stems from the pandemic.
  • Yesterday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced a June 9 hearing on “Pollution and Pandemics: COVID-19’s Disproportionate Impact on Environmental Justice Communities.”  

What we're watching: In the near term, what comes out of the climate task force established jointly by Biden and Bernie Sanders campaigns, which is supposed to provide its recommendations around mid-June.

  • It's unfolding at a time when the decades-old environmental justice movement has grown to encompass not only traditional pollution but wider climate concerns.
  • In particular, co-founder Varshini Prakash of the Sunrise Movement, which emphasizes racial justice dimensions of climate policy, is a Sanders designee on the body.
  • To go a bit deeper, its digital director, Mattias Lehman, has a lengthy Medium post on the group's posture here. It notes for instance, "For us people of color, the fight against climate change exists alongside the fight against white supremacy and colonialism."

Where it stands: Sunrise spokesperson Stevie O'Hanlon tells me it's something they're seeking to address via the task force.

  • Overall, they want Biden's plan to address climate "with the speed and scale that justice demand and in a way to addresses the existing inequity and injustices because of systemic environmental racism in this country."

The big picture: A suite of environmental groups has declared their support for Black Lives Matter and more broadly for confronting racial injustice.

  • That includes long-established groups like the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and the Natural Resources Defense Council, as well as newer players like the recently formed group Evergreen.
  • The statements are generally a mix of support but also efforts to draw links between racial and environmental disparities.
  • It comes even as the Washington Post reports groups "struggle with their own long-standing issues with addressing racial inequality and a lack of diversity in their ranks."

What they're saying: "From police brutality to discriminatory housing laws, from a corrupt legal system to contaminated drinking water and polluted air, our country has been built upon racist systems that we must all work together to break down," said the group Climate Power 2020.

  • The group launched last month is helmed by veterans of Democratic politics, and advisers range from old-guard figures like John Podesta to the new guard including Rhiana Gunn-Wright, a prominent figure in the Green New Deal movement.

Go deeper: Biden signals expanded climate plan as a "key objective"

Go deeper

Biden, troop levels and the 9/11 legacy

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Getty Images photos: Win McNamee and Drew Angerer

Despite pressure from the left, Joe Biden is making it clear that if he wins, he won't just pull up stakes from Afghanistan and the region.

Driving the news: Biden made news on Thursday when he told Stars and Stripes that he supports a sustained U.S. military footprint of up to 1,500-2,000 on the ground — primarily for special operations against ISIS and other terror threats — in the war that began after the 9/11 terrorist attacks 19 years ago.

2 hours ago - World

Taiwan leader confirms U.S. troops on island training forces

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei earlier this month. Photo: I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen told CNN Thursday that a small number of American troops are on the island for training purposes and she has "faith" the U.S. would defend the democracy against a Chinese military attack.

Why it matters: This is the first time a Taiwanese leader has publicly acknowledged the presence of U.S. troops on the self-governing island since the last U.S. garrison left in 1979, when Washington switched formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

NYC firefighters union urges members to defy mayor's vaccine mandate

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The president of New York City's firefighters union told reporters Wednesday that he's advised unvaccinated members to ignore Mayor Bill de Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers, per Reuters.

Why it matters: Under de Blasio's order that's due to take effect Friday, unvaccinated city employees would be placed on unpaid leave. But Uniformed Firefighters Association head Andrew Ansbro said he told members that "if they choose to remain unvaccinated, they must still report for duty," according to Reuters.