Governor stacks the Council without Senate approval

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SB 286 began hearings this week in the Oregon Legislature. “Environmental justice” is being defined 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.

Governor Brown’s request for SB 286 is nothing short of continuing her control clamping down on the environment using a Council. The proposal is to create the Environmental Justice Council within the Department of Environmental Quality as the fiscal agent. She stacks the Council without Senate approval:

SB 286 converts a task force into a Council. A task force that had limited focus on low-income communities that was expected to complete its work by elevating the role of environmental justice advocates in formulating the state’s environmental policies that adequately reflects highly impacted communities, including the utilization of cumulative impact analysis by natural resource agencies.

On the other hand, the Environmental Justice Council is to develop a cumulative impact analysis for all communities utilizing the natural resource agencies. Expanding the focus doesn’t just identify more vulnerable populations and environmental health disparities, it creates environmental burdens that impact everyone and is toxic to the economy. Looking for environmental conditions that impacts the climate is creating a problem that needs to be solve that will have an adverse impact on the economy and thus taxpayers. One of the task force duties was to refine and clarify how we measure vulnerability and underinvestment using a leading-edge scientific methodology, cumulative impact analysis. In consultation with the Racial Justice Council’s Environmental Equity Committee, the Council is to evaluate laws related to the environment with a focus on potential policy changes that advance environmental equity. Race and poverty correlate to vulnerability and additional factors including age, health, multiple sources of exposures, geography, work exposures, and other exposures are often layered onto communities. The Council will have unfettered impact on many of the Statewide Planning Goals: local planning, land use, and public facility programs.

Let’s not forget that Governor Brown promised “secure equal rights and equal opportunity for all and to promote social and economic justice and the health and safety of all Americans.”

–Donna Bleiler

Published in the Northwest Observer, Feb 10, 2021

Related: SB 286 Environmental Justice Council

Date: 2021-02-11 09:02

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