Washington State Passes the HEAL Act – A Win For Procedural Environmental Justice

Building off the PhD work that Esther Min conducted with environmental justice stakeholders, I participated in the mapping subgroup of the Governor’s Environmental Justice Task Force, which resulted in a synthesis of information and recommendations for the state to inact policies and procedures that would engage communities and agencies, and provide data on environmental health indicators to track progress towards environmental justice.

Yesterday, the HEAL Act was signed in Washington State, which paves the way towards implementing the recommendations of the Environmental Justice Task Force. Some key elements of the Act are:

  • Formation of an EJ Council with majority representation from impacted communities.
  • Development of a framework for resources to be more equitably distributed to enable environmental benefits to EJ communities.

The passage of the HEAL Act enables and provides funding to our research group to continue working with community partners and environmental health agencies to further develop and refine environmental indicators for the Washiington Environmental Health Disparities Map.

The HEAL Act is also mentioned within the Washington Climate Commitment Act, which was also signed into law yesterday. The Climate Commitment Act will interface with the HEAL Act to ensure that there’s considertation of environmental justice of the implementation of the cap and trade program, and the distribution of revenue from the program to EJ impacted communities.

Read more about the new legislation from the perspective of communities of color: