Washington Advances Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts Legislation
On April 26, the Washington Legislature sent SB5141 to the Governor for signing. The Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act statutorily defines “environmental justice,” creates a framework to guide state agencies on how to consider environmental justice in their work, establishes an environmental justice council to guide the work of agencies, requires the use of a cumulative impacts analysis to determine and address the burden of environmental threats, and includes a provision to increase community participation in decision making.
A strong environmental justice framework ensures that community members who experience the burden of environmental challenges are provided the adequate resources and infrastructure to live safely in their communities. By addressing environmental justice issues through a lens of cumulative impacts, policies can account for the multitude of exposures faced by communities and the compounding impact certain exposures have.
Other states currently advancing environmental justice and cumulative impact legislation include New York, North Carolina, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island.
To learn more about environmental justice and cumulative impact policies check out NCEL’s webpage.