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Task Force: Ways for WA to Prioritize Environmental Justice

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Monday, December 14, 2020   

SEATTLE -- A new report lays out how Washington state's government can ensure environmental justice for people of all races.

The Environmental Justice Task Force, convened last year, came up with 26 policy recommendations through community conversations.

It includes the formation of an interagency work group and prioritizing state investments in communities that are overburdened, using the Washington Environmental Health Disparity Map as a guide.

Sameer Ranade is civic engagement and policy manager for Front and Centered, a coalition of groups that led the development of this report.

"There's a requirement that environmental justice be included in agencies' strategic plans and the state assign full-time staff to be dedicated towards environmental justice," Ranade explained.

The report will act as a guide for racial-justice advocates during the 2021 legislative session. Many of the recommendations are included in the revamped effort to pass the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act.

Ranade noted Gov. Jay Inslee likely could enact many of the recommendations with executive action, but Front and Centered would prefer lawmakers take these issues up.

"We want to codify these into law to make them a requirement and have it not dependent on whoever is in the governor's office," Ranade urged.

Ranade added COVID-19 is further exposing the racial and economic injustices that exist in society, and believes the government should act to ensure everyone has access to clean air, water and healthy food.

"If we can have the government correct those inequities, we'll actually get closer to realizing the ideals on which our nation was founded," Ranade concluded.

The session convenes Jan. 11.


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