Environmental Justice Assessments

Washington's Environmental Justice Law, the HEAL Act, empowers us to conduct Environmental Justice Assessments when planning significant actions.

An Environmental Justice Assessment provides an opportunity to better understand a wide range of environmental justice impacts that an action may have in the early 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.

Ecology's approach

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 EPA.

Assessment process

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.

Assessment scope

As of July 1, 2023, we will conduct an environmental justice assessment 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 and completed Environmental Justice Assessments

Project Name/Location Key words Initiation date Status Significant Agency Action Type
Clean Fuels Program rulemaking, Chapter 173-424 WAC GHG emissions, carbon intensity, transportation & aviation fuels 12-18-23 ongoing significant legislative rules
Safer Products Restrictions and Reporting rulemaking, Chapter 173-337 WAC PFAS, consumer products, product safety 12-08-23 ongoing significant legislative rules
Hazardous Waste Fee Regulation rulemaking, Chapter 173-305 WAC hazardous waste, fees, planning, improved clarity 11-22-23 ongoing significant legislative rules
Emergency Drought Relief rulemaking, Chapter 173-166 WAC water scarcity, emergency drought relief 11-1-23 ongoing significant legislative rules
Carbon market linkage carbon markets, linkage, climate commitment act, cap-and-invest 10-19-23 completed 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, Chapter 173-446 WAC 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

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We invite you to share your thoughts on what types of actions should receive an assessment, and how we might improve our assessment process. Please contact our Senior Environmental Justice Policy Advisor.