OLYMPIAYesterday the Senate passed the HEAL Act to address environmental health disparities and establish a more equitable approach to environmental health.

Senate Bill 5489, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña (D-Seattle), creates a task force to make recommendations on how state agencies can incorporate environmental justice principles in their work. The task force would also provide guidance for identifying and addressing environmental health disparities and designate highly impacted communities. 

“Our youth need a clean environment to meet their full potential. We must recognize the disproportional impacts of environmental problems on low-income communities and communities of color, and we need state agencies to be coordinated with community stakeholders to face these impacts,” said Saldaña. “The HEAL Act will bring environmental and health agencies together with impacted community stakeholders to determine how to best use the new cumulative impacts data tool to achieve more efficient and coordinated outreach, policy implementation, and investments.”

SB 5489 defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”

The bill now moves to the House for consideration.