What is Environmental Justice?
Environmental justice is defined as “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 identifies 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.”
In 2022, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 4077
which expanded the definition of “environmental justice communities" to broadly include 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.
Oregon's Environmental Justice Council
Oregon HB 4077 also renamed and codified the then existing Environmental Justice Task Force as the Environmental Justice Council (EJC)
. The EJC, established within the Office of the Governor and supported by the Department of Environmental Quality, is a 13-member statewide council responsible to advise the Governor and 16 state natural resource agencies on environmental justice issues.
The Department of State Lands is one of those sixteen state natural resources agencies participating in these conversations, and DSL is committed to advancing environmental justice in our agency work.
Department of State Lands Annual Reports
The Oregon Department of State Lands is committed to supporting the Environmental Justice Council in its work. Read our most recent annual reports to the EJC:
History of Environmental Justice in the State of Oregon
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.
Oregon’s environmental justice law, established in 2008, requires state natural resource agencies – including DSL and 13 other agencies – to follow prescribed steps to provide greater public participation and ensure involvement of people who may be affected by agency actions. Senate Bill 420, which created the law, also created the Environmental Justice Task Force. ORS 182.542 directed the Governor to appoint 12 members to the task force who have a special interest in and knowledge of environmental justice.
EJSCREEN: Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool
– The United States Environmental Protection Agency developed a environmental justice mapping and screening tool called EJSCREEN. Based on nationally consistent data, this approach combines environmental and demographic indicators in maps and reports.