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Environmental Justice
Rock Creek Bridge
Task force to inform Governor, state agencies on involving underrepresented communities in environmental decisions
 
The concept of environmental justice is to provide equal protection from environmental and health hazards, and meaningful public participation in decisions that affect the environment in which people live, work, learn and play. Engaging minority and low-income citizens, tribal communities, and other traditionally underrepresented groups in decision-making is the primary goal of environmental justice work.
 
In 1993, Gov. Barbara Roberts established the state's first citizen advisory committee to assist state agencies with integrating environmental justice concepts into their decision-making. Gov. John Kitzhaber continued the effort, and by Executive Order in 1997 directed the evaluation of state agencies' performance on environmental justice.
 
In 2007, the Oregon Legislature created the Environmental Justice Task Force (Senate Bill 420). ORS 182.542 directs the Governor to appoint 12 members to the task force who have a special interest in and knowledge of environmental justice. The law states the task force shall:
  1. Advise the Governor on environmental justice issues;
  2. Advise natural resource agencies on environmental justice issues, including community concerns and public participation processes;
  3. Identify, in cooperation with natural resource agencies, minority and low-income communities that may be affected by environmental decisions made by the agencies;
  4. Meet with environmental justice communities and make recommendations to the Governor regarding concerns raised by these communities; and
  5. Define environmental justice issues in the state.
As a participating natural resource agency, the Department of State Lands is committed to support the task force in its work. The Department’s representative and contact for environmental justice is Jevra Brown; 503-986-5297. Read the Agency's 2012 Annual Report.
 
More information about Environmental Justice and the Task Force, including opportunities to provide public comment, is available on the Governor's website.
 
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality website also provides information on environmental justice, and how the agency is proactively responding to the issue.