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Environmental Justice

Our values around equity and inclusion are woven throughout each of our strategic plan goals and focus projects. We embrace diverse backgrounds and experiences, actively identifying and addressing inequities toward people and lands, and engaging widely to provide inclusive public service and working environments.

A key aspect of this work is advancing environmental justice.

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.

Additional Resources

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

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.


Cait McCusker
Public Engagement Officer
DSL Environmental Justice Agency Representative

Questions about the Environmental Justice Council? Reach out to:

Happening Now

The 2022 statute directs the council, with staff support from the Department of Environment Quality and Oregon Health Authority, to develop an environmental justice mapping tool. The purpose of this mapping tool is to provide geospatial information about EJ impacts and to develop guidance for state agencies when adopting rules and policies. 

The act further requires the council to follow an inclusive community engagement process to develop the mapping tool and directs it to establish technical collaboration with the Office of Enterprise Information Services; the Institute of Natural Resources at Oregon State University; and the Population Research Center at Portland State University to develop, maintain, and make the tool publicly available.