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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 people with lower incomes, communities of color, Indigenous peoples, and linguistically isolated folks—pay with their well-being and shortened lives.

In 2021, after years of hard work and dedicated community mobilization, we were able to celebrate the passage and signing of Senate Bill 5141: the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act. The HEAL Act represents the collective expertise of our coalition and our direct connections to frontline communities in Washington State. The law is not just a tool our communities can use to create change, but also a unique model for community co-governance that we can look to as we accelerate a Just Transition toward climate and environmental justice. 

Current Status and HEAL Progress Report

The HEAL Act affirms that communities have certain fundamental rights, and that we have every right to use them. However, rights need to be properly articulated, resourced, and integrated into state agencies to be protected and exercised. The potential is tremendous, but real hurdles need to be addressed to ensure that the funding and effort on HEAL is focused on impact, and that everyone involved is aligned in purpose and values.


2023 is a critical year for the HEAL Act, with the law’s requirements to assess significant agency actions as well as budgets and spending coming into effect. The legislature will also determine what funding is available to communities and agencies.


In this first community progress report, Front and Centered assesses implementation of the HEAL Act midway through its first cycle of requirements and recommends how to realize the full potential from a non-governmental, community-based perspective, based on our observations, conversations, and participation.

Our HEAL Progress Report is live!

Our Progress Report is now available for download—check it out to read our full analysis on HEAL Act progress!

Report Preview:

Key Findings

Key Recommendations

“We know a Just Transition won’t come easy. White supremacy and the “dig, dump, burn” consumer economy are still a reality for all of us to navigate. Government was not set up to change the systems, but to operate them, and change takes time and can be frustrating. But we believe we can persevere through these obstacles and make change if we work together.” 

— Mariel Thuraisingham, Clean Energy Policy Lead

Learn More about the HEAL Act with Just Solutions

We were on the Just Solutions Podcast talking about all things HEAL! Tune in to this thirty-minute discussion to hear Deric, our Co-executive Director, and Guillermo, our Legislative and Government Relations Advocate, go over the policy and community impacts of this landmark legislation, including the ways in which our work can provide lessons and insights for replication across the nation.

Check out the Just Solutions Podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Apply now:
HEAL Community! Fund

We are excited to announce that Front and Centered has secured funds to shape implementation of the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act and create the HEAL Community! Fund.

The legislature allocated these funds in 2021 thanks to the mobilization and determination of our coalition members and frontline communities, and they were awarded through the Department of Health. We are granting them to community-based organizations around Washington State.

Watch the video to learn who is eligible for grants through the fund, and then use the links below to find detailed information and start your application!

Key Elements of the HEAL Act

  1. Defines environmental justice (EJ) in state law and requires its application; uses a racial justice lens in agency strategic plans, goals, metric setting, program implementation, enforcement, and reporting that affects the environment.
  2. Directs funding with environmental benefits toward investments in and determined by communities highly impacted by pollution or climate impacts.
  3. Ensure Tribal sovereignty and rights as part of environmental justice.
  4. Advances equitable community participation in planning, resource allocation, programs, and enforcement. This includes agency community engagement planning, screening tools like the Washington Environmental Health Disparities (EHD) Map, reducing barriers to contracting with community-based organizations, and consultation with Tribes.
  5. Creates and funds an EJ Council that will support integrating EJ into state government, 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. Requires an EJ assessment of proposed and historic environment bills, rulemakings, and budgets using the EHD Map and other tools.
  7. Funds and applies the 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.

Community Representation: HEAL Work Group

Front and Centered’s HEAL work group is comprised of staff and community members who represent some of our coalition’s member organizations. Work group members give our coalition guidance on HEAL Act implementation and contributed to our latest progress report, including its findings and recommendations:

Maria Batayola
Environmental Justice Coordinator, El Centro De La Raza

Johnny Buck
Wise Action Program Director, Na’ah Illahee Fund

Faduma Fido
Lab Leader, People’s Economy Lab

Edgar Franks
Political Director, Familias Unidas por la Justicia

Rosalinda Guillen
Executive Director, Community to Community

Sedonia Young
Organizational Fund Developer, Tacoma Ministerial Alliance

Community Representation: Environmental Justice Council

Appointed by the governor, Washington’s EJ Council is another venue where frontline communities can have a voice. Seven of the fifteen council members serve as community representatives, including several who are also members of or staff to the Front and Centered coalition:

Four additional council members are appointed by Tribal governments to serve as representatives of Tribal communities. Dr. Esther Min, who is part of Front and Centered’s coordination team, also serves on the EJ Council as an academic practitioner and environmental justice expert.


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