Signed on 3/23/22, in effect 8/1/2022
EJ Council and Defining Key Terms
This Act changed the name of the Environmental Justice Task Force to the Environmental Justice Council. Additionally, it defined several key terms. It defined environmental burden as, “the environmental and health risks to communities caused by the combined historic, current and projected future effects of: (a) Exposure to conventional pollution and toxic hazards in the air or in or on water or land; (b) Adverse environmental conditions caused or made worse by other contamination or pollution; and (c) Changes in the environment resulting from climate change, such as water insecurity, drought, flooding, wildfire, smoke and other air pollution, extreme heat, loss of traditional cultural resources or foods, ocean acidification, sea-level rise and increases in infectious disease.”
“Community-supported natural resource collaborative” includes “a group that works with a natural resource agency in a collaborative manner on natural resource issues affecting the community and that: (a) Promotes public participation in natural resource decisions;
(b) Provides an open forum that allows for public deliberation of natural resource decisions affecting the community;
(c) Can demonstrate diverse representation and balance between interests, including but not limited to environmental organizations, industry organizations and community members;
(d) Has members who are individuals or organizations directly affected by the natural resource decisions discussed;
(e) Has a governance agreement that guides its operations; and
(f) Works in cooperation with local and tribal governments.”
The definition of “Environmental justice:” “means the equal protection from environmental and health risks, fair treatment and meaningful involvement in decision making of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, immigration status, income or other identities with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies that affect the environment in which people live, work, learn and practice spirituality and culture.”
“Environmental justice community” “includes communities of color, communities experiencing lower incomes, communities experiencing health inequities, tribal communities, rural communities, remote communities, coastal communities, communities with limited infrastructure and other communities traditionally underrepresented in public processes and adversely harmed by environmental and health hazards, including seniors, youth and persons with disabilities.”
Environmental Justice Mapping Tool
“The Environmental Justice Council with staff support from the Department of Environmental Quality, in collaboration with the office of Enterprise Information Services, the Institute for Natural Resources, the Portland State University Population Research Center, and natural resource agencies with staff support from the department and the Oregon Health Authority, shall develop an environmental justice mapping tool. When developing the environmental justice mapping tool, the council shall develop and conduct an inclusive community engagement process.” The bill further specifies the details of the community engagement process. The deadline for developing the EJ Mapping Tool is “no later than September 15, 2025,” with a progress report from the Environmental Justice Council to the governor by September 15, 2024.
The Act appropriated $324,520 to the Department of Environmental Quality from the General Fund to develop the EJ Mapping Tool for the biennium ending June 30, 2023. An additional $123,586 was appropriated to the Oregon Health Authority
Additionally, the Environmental Justice Council will provide guidance for state agencies regarding how to use the EJ mapping tool when adopting rules, policies or guidelines. The EJ Council will provide further guidance on best practices for public participation and consulting EJ communities, as well as developing guidelines for how to identify EJ communities and how to evaluate socioeconomic benefits and burdens to EJ communities.
Caveats/Limitations of the Environmental Justice Mapping Tool
The Act clarifies that the EJ Mapping Tool “is informational only and may not be used in agency decision-making on individual permits or applications unless otherwise required by federal or state law.”
Natural resource agencies “may consider the results of the environmental justice mapping tool … when developing administrative rules or agency policies or programs. Natural resource agencies shall consider the recommendations in the report required by … this 2022 Act when utilizing the environmental justice mapping tool. (2) A natural resource agency may use the environmental justice mapping tool to: (a) Identify environmental justice communities affected by agency programs; (b) Conduct outreach and engagement activities with environmental justice communities to inform the development, adoption, implementation or enforcement of environmental laws, administrative rules or agency policies; (c) Establish measurable goals for reducing environmental health disparities within agency programs; and (d) Prioritize agency funding to help address identified impacts on environmental justice communities. (3)(a) The environmental justice mapping tool may inform agency policies and programs as they relate to community engagement and outreach, investments and funding and impacts to environmental justice communities, and may be a source of information to the public.”
- Action Agency(ies): Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, with assistance from Oregon Health Authority, the office of Enterprise Information Services, the Institute for Natural Resources, Portland State University Population Research Center, the Environmental Justice Council, and other natural resource agencies.
- Read the full policy language