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Environmental Justice

In 2022, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 4077 that renamed and codified the then existing Environmental Justice Task Force (EJTF) as the Environmental Justice Council (EJC). The EJC, established within the Office of the Governor, is a 13-member statewide council responsible to advise the Governor and state natural resource agencies on environmental justice (EJ) issues. 

The Department of State Lands is one of the 16 state natural resources agencies, and DSL is committed to advancing environmental justice in our agency work.

HB 4077 also 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. 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.”

Department of State Lands Annual Reports

The Oregon Department of State Lands is committed to supporting the EJC in its work. Read our most recent annual reports to the Environmental Justice Council:

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.

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.



Contact

Cait McCusker
Public Engagement Officer
DSL Environmental Justice Agency Representative

To be added to the Environmental Justice Council email list or for questions, please send your request to: EJ.Council@oregon.gov

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.