Governor Kate Brown’s office celebrates the passing of HB 4077 which codifies the current Environmental Justice Task Force (EJTF) as the Environmental Justice Council. With this legislation, Oregon continues to be a national leader in sustainable and equitable climate practices.
Weather disasters and weather-related events have affected Oregon with increasing frequency in recent years. These events have a disproportionate impact on low-income areas and areas where Black, Native American, Native American, Tribal, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, immigrant and refugee communities reside, and communities of color.
“Oregon must invest in strengthening our statewide environmental justice infrastructure by changing the composition and functions of the Environmental Justice Council,” said Jairaj Singh of Unite Oregon. “The Environmental Justice Council is increasing the capacity for broader representation, including the addition of a young member to represent future generations.”
The working group
The Environmental Justice Task Force is currently responsible for advising the Governor and natural resource agencies on environmental justice issues. The task force serves as a liaison between state agencies and the public to raise concerns raised by environmental justice communities.
“Becoming a council with additional coordinating responsibilities between state agencies and environmental justice communities with more meaningful resources will serve Oregonians well,” said Jim Krieder, who serves on the Environmental Justice Task Force. environmental justice.
“The task force is made up of volunteers like me who are there because we are personally invested in environmental justice,” said Quinn Read, who serves on the environmental justice task force. “The task force has used its limited resources very effectively, but the truth is that we are stretched thin. This bill gives us the tools and resources to continue our work protecting Oregon’s most vulnerable communities.
He has been shown that Black, Indigenous, and people of color have less access to resources that could help in the event of a climate catastrophe.
For example, white families in communities damaged by climate disasters have been found to have seen their wealth increase through generous reinvestment initiatives. However, Black, Indigenous, People of Color and Tribal members of communities who suffered similar damage from natural disasters either saw a smaller increase in their wealth or they actually saw a decrease in wealth.
Valentín C. Sánchez, who serves on the Environmental Justice Task Force, says affected communities, such as farm workers who suffer from working in high heat conditions and live in work accommodations that offer little or no heat relief and other elements, will be able to bring their concerns to the Board in an effective manner.
Data-Driven Equity Mapping
HB 4077 will create equity mapping to include Oregon’s most vulnerable populations in policy conversations about climate change mitigation. The data is a critical tool for determining the extent of environmental burdens and benefits on Oregon’s most impacted and vulnerable communities.
Sánchez also says access to new data will be important.
“We have limited data on issues affecting agricultural workers who live in isolated rural areas, face smoke from wildfires, exposure to pesticides in the workplace, heat stress, lack of public transportation, affordable housing, and many other EJ issues,” she said.
“When it comes to addressing environmental and climate justice, geospatial tools, like the Environmental Justice Mapping Tool created by HB 4077, are a powerful ally for making collaborative data-driven decisions,” said Jairaj Singh, director of the Clackamas County chapter of Uniting Oregon. “These tools have the ability to identify disadvantaged and vulnerable communities that should be prioritized to account for historical and current damage and lack of disinvestment.”
By Stacey Newman Weldon