Environmental Justice Assessments
Public Comment on Types of Significant Agency Actions for Environmental Justice Assessments
Public comments will be accepted until 11:59pm on June 15, 2023
Washington State’s statewide environmental justice law, the Healthy Environmental for All (HEAL) Act instructs the Puget Sound Partnership (The Partnership) to conduct environmental justice assessments when considering Significant Agency Actions.
Starting July 1, 2023, we are required to complete an environmental justice assessment for the following actions named in the law:
- Adopting or developing significant legislative rules as defined in RCW 34.05.328.
- Adopting or developing new grant or loan programs initiated after July 1, 2023.
- Designing or awarding capital projects, grants, or loans of $12 million or more.
- Developing agency request legislation.
- Any other actions deemed significant consistent with RCW 70A.02.060.
The Partnership can identify additional types of significant agency actions, in addition to the above, which will require environmental justice assessments starting July 1, 2025. We are beginning to identify actions that may benefit from an environmental justice assessment and there will be additional opportunities for the public to comment in the future. Our initial list of specific significant agency actions include:
Per RCW 70A.02.010 (12) (c)
- Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration biennial grant round
Per RCW 70A.02.010 (12) (e) and RCW 70A.02.060
- Development of the 2025-2028 Science Work Plan
- Development of the 2026-2030 Action Agenda
We are seeking your comments and feedback on the following:
- The above list of significant agency actions.
- Other types of Partnership actions you think would benefit from an assessment starting in 2025.
- How the Partnership can best engage with communities impacted by significant agency actions.
- How you would like to stay informed about environmental justice assessments.
While this comment period is open through June 15, 2023, to meet required deadlines, we invite you to reach out to us at any time. We will use input to help inform decisions on conducting assessments and how we communicate and engage.
Submit written comments to Melissa Schutten, Equity and Environmental Justice Manager at: firstname.lastname@example.org. A summary of comments and Partnership responses will be posted to our Partnership webpage by June 30, 2023.
The HEAL Act
The passage of the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act in 2021 is a historic step toward eliminating environmental health disparities and more equitably distributing health and environmental benefits among communities of color and low-income households. It is the first law in Washington to create a coordinated state agency approach to environmental justice.
The law covers seven state agencies: the Puget Sound Partnership, and the Washington State departments of Health, Agriculture, Commerce, Ecology, Natural Resources, and Transportation. It allows other agencies to opt in.
more information and continued updates on HEAL Act implementation, see the Partnership’s HEAL Act webpage.
Environmental Justice Assessments
HEAL Act requires staff of covered agencies to conduct environmental justice assessments. Environmental justice assessments are a process that staff will be required to follow to determine the impacts of significant agency actions on overburdened communities and vulnerable populations. HEAL Act staff are working on creating the exact process for environmental justice assessments, which will be finalized by July 2023 when it needs to be implemented by the agency. Environmental justice assessments are intended to assist the agency with understanding disproportionate impacts, equitably distributing environmental benefits, reducing environmental harms, and addressing environmental and health disparities. This process should not delay the timeline nor completion of the action being assessed.
Last updated: 5/23/23