Environmental Justice Assessments
Washington's Environmental Justice Law, the HEAL Act, empowers Ecology to conduct Environmental Justice Assessments when planning significant actions. See the table below for a list of ongoing and completed Environmental Justice Assessments.
An Environmental Justice Assessment provides an opportunity to better understand a wide range of environmental justice impacts that an action may have early in the developmental stages of our work. They will help us make informed decisions to reduce environmental harms and to address environmental and health disparities in overburdened communities.
Our Environmental Justice Assessments reflect new goals and regulations from the HEAL Act, as well as our federal commitments in our Performance Partnership Agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The process also draws on practices from established environmental justice resources, such as Technical Guidance for Assessment Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis and Promising Practices for EJ Methodologies in NEPA Reviews, while still aligning with the HEAL Interagency Work Group’s shared common practices that were developed collaboratively over the past year.
This assessment is not required to be a comprehensive or an exhaustive examination of all potential impacts of a significant agency action, and doesn't require novel quantitative or economic analysis of the proposed significant agency action. The time and resource investment, and depth of assessment, will be influenced by the reasonable applicability of the questions to the agency action.
As of July 1, 2023, we will conduct Environmental Justice Assessments on the following types of actions that we've determined are significant and that meet the requirements of the law:
- Developing significant legislative rules (rulemaking)
- Adopting or developing new grant or loan programs
- Designing or awarding capital projects, grants, or loans of $12 million or more
- Developing agency request legislation
We filed notice in the Washington State Register of this determination, and will host a public comment period when expanding the types of actions that will receive an environmental justice assessment. Looking forward, we're considering how we might expand the types of actions that will require an assessment. We also plan to update the Environmental Justice Assessment document to incorporate what we learn through practice, community engagement, Tribal consultation, and any guidance we may receive from the Environmental Justice Council. We plan to keep the doors of communication open along the way!
All ongoing & complete Environmental Justice Assessments
|Project Name/Location||Key words||Initiation date||Status||Significant Agency Action Type|
|Emergency Drought Relief||water scarcity, emergency drought relief||11-1-23||ongoing||significant legislative rules|
|Carbon market linkage changes||carbon markets, linkage, climate commitment act, cap-and-invest||10-19-23||ongoing||agency request legislation|
|Water Security Drought Grant Initiative||water security, drought preparedness, planning||9-14-23||ongoing||new grant or loan program|
|Cap-and-Invest Offsets Rulemaking||Offsets, cap-and-invest, climate change, greenhouse gases (GHGs)||9-12-23||ongoing||significant legislative rules|
|Dredge-and-fill permit program||water, dredge-and-fill, Sackett, legislation||8-31-23||ongoing||agency request legislation|