Governor Inslee signs environmental justice bill at Duwamish Long House
Governor Jay Inslee came to the Duwamish Long House on West Marginal Way on Monday to highlight the work being done regarding reducing environmental and health disparities by signing Senate Bill No. 5141.
The HEAL act as it is called is the result of nearly seven years of effort as described by the bill's sponsor Senator Teresa Saldana who spoke at the event. Numerous organizations worked together to promote what is widely seen as a comprehensive set of tools for environmental justice.
Front and Centered, the largest coaltion of communities of color-led groups in the pacfic northwest at the intersection of equity, environmental and climate justice described the bill this way:
"Where you live, your income, race, or language ability should not determine how healthy and safe you are. But tragically in our communities, health and well-being varies significantly according to who you are and where you live. People across Washington who are suffering worst from pollution — often low-income people, communities of color, and linguistically-isolated people — pay with their well-being and shortened lives.
The HEAL Act, Senate Bill 5141, will center those most affected by pollution as Washington transitions to a green economy. To do this, the HEAL Act will define ‘environmental justice’ in state law, outline how agencies should consider community needs and environmental justice (EJ) in their work, establish a permanent EJ Council to work with these agencies and help create EJ legislation, and expand equitable community participation."
Speaking at the signing Governor Inslee said, "We know that reducing environmental health disparities requires making economic justice a central pillar of decision making in our state."
The act establishes the Environmental Justice Council which Inslee said is, "made up of affected communities and environmental justice experts and it will advise us on our important work throughout our state. It requires agencies to develop community engagement plans."
The bill's content comes from the recommendations of the Environmental Justice Task Force.