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Healthy Environment For All (HEAL) Act

Landmark Environmental Justice Policy in Washington

Where you live, your income, race, or language ability should not determine how healthy and safe you are. But tragically in our communities, health and well-being varies significantly according to who you are and where you live. People across Washington who are suffering worst from pollution — often low-income people, communities of color, and linguistically-isolated people — pay with their well-being and shortened lives.

After years of hard work and a dedicated community effort, the Washington State Legislature passed the Healthy Environment for All Act (also known as the HEAL Act), Senate Bill 5141. This landmark environmental justice law centers communities most affected by pollution as Washington transitions to a green economy. The HEAL Act defines ‘environmental justice’ in state law, outlines how agencies should consider community needs and environmental justice (EJ) in their work, establishes a permanent EJ Council to work with these agencies and help create EJ legislation, and expands equitable community participation. The HEAL Act will be an essential tool as we aim to accelerate a Just Transition toward climate and environmental justice. 

Key Priorities In the HEAL Act

  1. Define EJ in state law and require its application, use a racial justice lens in agency strategic plans, goals, and metric setting, program implementation, enforcement, and reporting affecting the environment.

  2. Direct funding with environmental benefits toward investments in and determined by communities highly impacted by pollution or climate impacts.

  3. Ensure Tribal sovereignty and rights in EJ.

  4. Advance equitable community participation in planning, resource allocation, programs, and enforcement. This includes: agency community engagement planning, screening tools like the Washington Environmental Health Disparities (WA-EHD) Map, reducing barriers to contracting with community-based organizations and consultation with Tribes.

  5. Create and fund an EJ Council that will support integrating EJ into state government and report progress to the Governor and establish the Office of the EJ Advocate to ensure agencies comply with the obligations of the HEAL Act.

  6. Require an EJ assessment of proposed and historic environment bills, rulemakings, and budgets using the WA-EHD Map and other tools.

  7. Fund and apply the WA-EHD Map to identify cumulative impacts and overburdened communities and develop additional tools to measure the link between environmental quality and human health, disaggregated by race.

Endorsements

Complete this form to endorse the HEAL Act of 2021 and join our campaign listserv for email updates. Your participation is meaningful and strengthens our campaign to allow everyone in Washington to live in a healthy and safe environment no matter who they are, what language they speak, or how much money they have. Thank you!

  • 350 Bellingham
  • 350 Everett, WA
  • 350 Seattle
  • 350 Spokane Climate Change
  • 350 Washington Network
  • Climate Alliance
  • Climate Reality Project – Washington State Coalition
  • Tacoma NAACP
  • South Seattle Climate Action Network
  • Sunrise SWWA
  • Transportation Choices Coalition
  • Prospect Congregational United Church of Christ
  • Seattle Foundation
  • Collaborative Solutions, Inc.
  • Surge Reproductive Justice
  • Molecule LLC

On January 7, 2020, Front & Centered hosted a virtual briefing for advocates, community members, and media across Washington state to highlight key environmental justice policies being considered in the 2021 Legislative Session with a particular focus on the HEAL Act.