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Environmental Justice

Task force informs 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: 
  • Advise the Governor on environmental justice issues;
  • Advise natural resource agencies on environmental justice issues, including community concerns and public participation processes;
  • Identify, in cooperation with natural resource agencies, minority and low-income communities that may be affected by environmental decisions made by the agencies;
  • Meet with traditionally underrepresented communities and make recommendations to the Governor regarding concerns raised by these communities; and
  • Define environmental justice issues in the state.
As a participating natural resource agency, the Department of State Lands is committed to supporting the task force in its work. The Department’s representative and contact for environmental justice is Chris Castelli; 503-986-5280. Read the Agency's 2016 Annual Report.

Environmental justice resources

Environmental Justice: Best Practices for Oregon’s Natural Resource Agencies – The State of Oregon Environmental Justice Task Force has developed this handbook to provide specific tools and approaches to better identify potential disparate impacts and engage in intentional, targeted outreach to all stakeholders to ensure equitable outcomes and equal opportunity for meaningful participation.

EJSCREEN: Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool – In order to better meet the Agency’s responsibilities related to the protection of public health and the environment, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has developed a new environmental justice (EJ) mapping and screening tool called EJSCREEN. It is based on nationally consistent data and an approach that combines environmental and demographic indicators in maps and reports.

EJ 2020 Action Agenda: EPA's Environmental Justice Strategy - The EJ 2020 Action Agenda (EJ 2020), EPA's strategic plan for advancing environmental justice from the years 2016-2020, plays an integral part in fulfilling the agency's mission by focusing attention on the environmental and public health issues and challenges confronting the nation's minority, low-income, tribal and indigenous populations.

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