Policy Update

Considering Environmental Justice in Environmental Legislation

Region

Midwest

NCEL Point of Contact

Mara Herman
Environmental Health Manager

Contact

Research continues to show that low-income communities and communities of color are more likely to live in neighborhoods with poor air quality, pollutants, and limited access to clean water.  In fact, the COVID-19 crisis has emphasized the urgency of environmental injustices. Due to these environmental factors, disadvantaged communities are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. 

To address these disparities, legislators across the country have introduced over 150 bills in 20 states to protect vulnerable communities. One bill, Minnesota HF 3753, offers a unique approach to integrating environmental justice into environmental considerations. View Environmental Justice Legislation

Minnesota Bill Would Require Consideration of Environmental Justice

HF 3753 would require the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to analyze the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of a community near a given facility (e.g., hazardous waste facility or wastewater treatment plant) before issuing or changing permits. This means that the agency, which regulates pollution, would be required to consider the nearby population’s ability and resources to withstand, respond to, or recover from exposure to additional pollution. Demographic characteristics include: 

  • Racial/ethnic characteristics,
  • Income and poverty levels,
  • Education levels,
  • Substandard housing conditions,
  • Access to healthcare/medical care.

Minnesota’s bill is just one of many ways legislators are addressing environmental justice issues in their state. If you are interested in learning more about Minnesota’s bill or other states’ approaches, please reach out to Yinka Bode-George