Improving air quality in overburdened communities

We're working to implement a new air quality initiative aimed at expanding air quality monitoring and ultimately reducing air pollution in communities that bear a disproportionate burden of pollution today. This environmental justice focus is a key part of the Climate Commitment Act, the 2021 law that establishes a cap and invest program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Washington.

Section 3 of the Climate Commitment Act

Section 3 of the Climate Commitment Act ("Improving Air Quality in Overburdened Communities") requires us to conduct an environmental justice review to determine whether reducing greenhouse gas emissions is also reducing other types of air pollution in the communities that bear the brunt of pollution today.

We're working to determine criteria to identify these overburdened communities, and will then establish an expanded air quality monitoring program to get more information on pollution levels in these areas. Based on that information, we will work to develop plans to reduce pollution in these areas.  

Listening sessions and new survey

As we develop criteria to identify overburdened communities that would benefit from additional air quality monitoring and pollution reduction plans, we are holding a series of listening sessions to hear from residents about their experiences with air pollution in their community, and collect information on other factors we need to consider as part of the initial selection process. This feedback is critical to Ecology’s process and will inform the development of criteria to identify overburdened communities, the expansion of air monitoring in these communities and new air quality targets.

Past listening sessions

  • 12 p.m. Mar. 24 -Yakima 
  • 6:30 p.m. Mar. 24 - Yakima
  • 6 p.m. Jan. 18 - Eastern Washington
  • 6 p.m. Jan. 19 - Central Washington
  • 6 p.m. Jan. 20 - Western Washington

The January sessions were organized geographically although anyone was welcome to attend geographically. We are continuing to host additional listening sessions across the State in response to community interest.

If you were unable to attend one of these sessions, but wish to provide input on the process, we invite you to provide your input through an educational StoryMap and survey, or sign up for our email list for future opportunities to comment. 

There will also be additional opportunities for public comment once we propose final criteria for overburdened communities. 

Future work

Based on the expanded air quality monitoring network, we will work with local governments, local clean air agencies, Tribes, and other stakeholders to:

  • Determine whether air pollution is being reduced in those areas.
  • Establish air quality targets for those areas.
  • Develop plans to reach the targets.
  • Establish air quality targets to reduce criteria air pollution in these communities. Then we will develop a plan to achieve those targets.

Frequently asked questions