Policy Options

Environmental Justice and Cumulative Impacts

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Mara Herman
Environmental Health Manager

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Overview

This one-pager provides some examples of environmental justice and cumulative impacts legislation from across the country.

Legislative Examples

Colorado B21-1266 (2021): Environmental Justice Disproportionate Impacted Community

  • Summary: Defines “disproportionately impacted community” and requires the air quality control commission to promote outreach to and engage with disproportionately impacted communities by creating new ways to gather input from communities across the state, using multiple languages and multiple formats, and transparently sharing information about adverse effects resulting from its proposed actions. Creates the environmental justice action task force in the department of public health and environment (department). 
  • Primary sponsor(s): Rep, Dominique Jackson (D-CO-042) Sen. Janet Buckner (D-CO-028)

Delaware H.C.R. 40 (2021): This Concurrent Resolution creates the Justice Forty Oversight Committee to study and make findings and recommendations regarding environmental justice in this State

  • Summary: Creates the Justice Forty Oversight Committee to study and make findings and recommendations regarding environmental justice in the state
  • Primary Sponsor: DE Rep. Larry Lambert (D-DE-007)

Georgia H.B.432 (2021): Georgia Environmental Justice Act of 2021

  • Summary: Creates the Environmental Justice Commission to provide for the duties of the commission; to provide that as a prerequisite for obtaining certain permits in neighborhoods consisting of persons of color or from low-income families applicants shall take certain actions to mitigate health hazards; to provide that governmental agencies shall consider the disproportionate effect of environmental hazards on people of color or people from low-income families in implementing certain environmental policies; to provide that no person in Georgia shall be excluded from any state funded program or activity because of race, color, or national origin; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.
  • Primary sponsor(s): GA Rep. Karla Drenner (D-GA-085), GA Rep. Derrick Jackson (D-GA-064) (original cosponsor)

Illinois H.B. 3090 (2021) Environmental Justice Act

  • Summary: Creates the Illinois Environmental Justice Advisory Council to provide independent advice and recommendations to the Governor, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the other State agencies about broad, cross-cutting issues related to environmental justice and on policies, practices, and specific actions.
  • Primary sponsor(s): IL Rep. Sonya Harper (D-IL-006), IL Rep. Carol Ammons (D-IL-103)

Massachusetts H.2230: An Act To Improve Outdoor And Indoor Air Quality For Communities Burdened By Transportation Pollution 

  • Summary: Will address and improve outdoor and indoor air quality in communities overburdened with air emissions from highways, ports, airports, and congested roadways. Aims to expand outdoor air monitoring in pollution hotspots, set air quality targets by 2030 and 2035, require installation of air filters in existing eligible buildings within 200 meters of congested roadways, update the state sanitary code to improve mold enforcement, and update the building code to improve air quality in newly constructed buildings.
  • Primary sponsor(s): Rep. Christine Barber (D-MA-093), Rep. Mike Connolly (D-MA-085)

Minnesota H.F.2334 (2021): Environmental justice considerations provided in state permitting determinations.

  • Summary: Identifies environmental justice areas of concern as a census tract where 40% of people reported income of less than 200% of the federal poverty level, 45% of people identifying as people of color, and those that are on federally recognized Indian land. The Pollution Control Agency will enforce emission standards and be equipped with air monitoring equipment that will address inequities in impacted communities.
  • Primary sponsor(s): MN Rep. Esther Agbaje (D-MN-059B), MN Rep. Fue Lee (D-MN-059A)

New Jersey S.232 (2020): Requires DEP to evaluate environmental and public health stressors of certain facilities on overburdened communities when reviewing certain permit applications.

  • Summary: Identifies municipalities with neighborhoods that are overburdened by the effects of pollution. Overburdened is defined as census blocks that have at least 35% of low income households, at least 40% of minority identifying residents or state recognized tribal community, or at least 40% of households with limited English proficiency. Targeted polluting facilities are those that are major sources of air pollution, waste-to-energy facilities, sewage treatment plants, transfer stations, and landfills.
  • Primary sponsor(s): NJ Sen. Troy Singleton (D-NJ-007), NJ Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-NJ-037)

North Carolina H.784 (2021): Environmental Justice Considerations

  • Summary: Would require the State Environmental Quality Department to deny permit requests from companies looking to construct solid waste management facilities or other projects if the department finds the facility would have an adverse impact on communities protected by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 
  • Primary sponsor(s): NC Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-NC-061), NC Rep. Kandie Smith (D-NC-008)

Oregon H.B.2842: Establishes Healthy Homes Program within the Oregon Health Authority to provide grants to entities to provide financial assistance to low income households and landlords

  • Summary: Aims to make homes safer to live in for all residents especially those impacted by environmental justice factors.
  • Primary sponsor(s): Rep. Pam Marsh (D-OR-005), Rep. Karin Power (D-OR-041)

Rhode Island S.B.105 (2021): An Act Relating To State Affairs And Government — Environmental Justice Act 

  • Summary: This act would require the division of statewide planning to create a list of environmental justice areas. Once the list of environmental justice areas is adopted the act would establish requirements which would have to be met by an applicant prior to division of statewide planning or the coastal resources management council issuing permits for an activity that would increase cumulative impacts on an environmental justice area. 
  • Primary sponsor(s): RI Sen. Dawn Euer (D-RI-013), RI Sen. Michael “Mike” McCaffrey (D-RI-029)

Texas H.B. 714 (2021): Relating to the establishment of the Texas Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

  • Summary: Defines environmental justices and establishes the Texas Environmental Justice Advisory. Purpose is to advise state agencies and local governments of environmental justice issues
  • Primary sponsor(s): TX Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-TX-027)

Vermont S.148 (2021): An act relating to environmental justice in Vermont

  • Summary: Creates a guiding framework and includes additional support for the officer of civil rights at the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. Includes a mandate to identify and map environmentally distressed areas throughout the state. The goal of which is to gather information on whether there are cities or towns with high rates of air pollution and possibly respiratory issues, or lead paint in buildings and perhaps cognitive developmental delays.
  • Primary sponsor(s): VT Sen. Kesha Ram (D-VT-005)

Washington S.B. 5141 (2021): Implementing the Recommendations of the Environmental Justice Task Force.

  • Summary: Defines environmental justice and requires its application, uses a racial justice lens in agency strategic plans, goals, and metric setting, program implementation, enforcement, and reporting affecting the environment. Also ensures tribal sovereignty and rights in environmental justice. Ensures direct funding with environmental benefits toward investments in and determined by communities highly impacted by pollution or climate pollution. Encourages equitable community participation in planning, resource allocations, programs and enforcement
  • Primary sponsor(s): WA Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-WA-037)

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