Environmental justice in budget & funding
The HEAL Act instructs covered agencies to incorporate environmental justice into funding and budgeting processes throughout the agency. The law requires the agencies to set a goal of directing 40% of all grants and expenditures that create environmental benefits to vulnerable populations and overburdened communities, which aligns with the federal Justice40 goal under Executive Order 14008. The state law also requires agencies to create opportunities for overburdened communities and vulnerable populations to meaningfully participate in decision-making related to budgets and funding.
Ecology’s approach to budget equity
We've actively worked to integrate environmental justice and community engagement into decision processes related to budget development, contracts, grant and loan funding programs, and other expenditures. This includes evaluating program activities and expenditures for service equity and funding distribution gaps, incorporating Environmental Justice considerations into grant scoring criteria, and advancing opportunities to direct program resources to areas and communities most in need. We also set the goal of directing 40% of grants and expenditures that create environmental benefits for vulnerable populations and overburdened communities.
The HEAL Act creates new obligations for agencies to incorporate environmental justice into budget processes, and equitably distribute funding and expenditures that address or may cause environmental harm, or provide environmental benefits for overburdened communities and vulnerable populations (to the extent allowed by law and consistent with legislative appropriations).
Ecology will initially emphasize environmental justice in decision processes related to budget development, contracts, grant and loan funding programs, and other expenditures where the agency has discretion, subject to legislative appropriations and state law.
Among the agency focus areas are grant and loan funding programs. These programs are a significant portion of Ecology’s budget, with over 50 unique funding programs that make up approximately 70% of our appropriations. Many grant programs provide sufficient discretion within the funding guidelines and decision-making process to integrate environmental justice principles and advance equity goals.
As part of incorporating the HEAL Act and other state equity laws, our programs will continue to consult with the agency’s Office of Equity and Environmental Justice (OEEJ) to identify and include Environmental Justice and equity practices in decision making processes, where applicable.
Environmental justice in budget decision-making
The implementation of HEAL goals into budget and funding decisions creates new opportunity and authority to ensure state resources are equitably distributed. Developing and implementing budget processes that incorporate environmental justice is an iterative process that will evolve as the agency learns more, and as the Environmental Justice Council provides guidance. The types of decision processes the agency takes actions on will be updated as our practices mature and as more information becomes available.
Initial implementation budget and funding obligations will focus on budget decisions where Ecology has discretion to direct or influence expenditures that may reduce or eliminate environmental harm, address environmental and health disparities for overburdened communities and vulnerable populations, and cultivate community and infrastructure resilience. We've identified the following types of decision processes to initially take action on, including:
|Type of process||How we will take action|
|Budget development process||
Emphasis in the budget request on opportunities that effect environmental justice principles and identify ways to build environmental justice into budget requests to the extent practicable.
|Competitive grant and loan funding program process||Emphasis on including environmental justice considerations into funding guidelines, including scoring and ranking criteria to the extent practicable.|
|Partner-driven grant funding program process||Cooperation with external boards and groups to identify and prioritize projects for legislative appropriation.|
|Formula-driven grant funding program process||Cooperation with external boards and groups to identify and prioritize projects for legislative appropriation.|
|Contracted Ecology-led site cleanup program process||Make informed decisions that include local community input while following the state regulatory process.|
|Contract and procurement process||
Follow state and agency policies and procedures, including supplier diversity policies and Executive Order 22-01 to encourage and facilitate the purchase of goods and services from small, diverse, and or veteran-owned businesses to the maximum extent possible.
|Technical assistance program process||Prioritize assistance to underrepresented populations.|
Visualizing grants & loans
Historically, around 70% of the funds Ecology manages is passed through to local communities to be used on environmental projects throughout Washington. Some of this is provided directly to local governments and communities through grants and loans to help them improve the environment. Pass-through funds directly create jobs, improve economic development, and protect environmental and public health. Ecology has created an interactive map for transparency that includes information about location, funding amounts, dollars per area, and a link to more details.
Looking forward, we plan to explore how tools like this can help us evaluate equity in our work. We also plan to improve our budget equity processes by incorporating all that 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!
Share your thoughts with us
We invite you to share your thoughts any time on how Ecology might improve our budget equity work. Please reach out to the Environmental Justice Senior Policy Advisor, Courtney Cecale, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 360-480-6270.
You can also sign up to receive updates on budget equity by subscribing to our Office of Equity and Environmental Justice mailing list.