On May 31, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed legislation to establish an environmental justice (EJ) policy for the state. The new law requires state agencies to take action to identify, reduce, and eliminate environmental health disparities to improve the health and well-being of all Vermont residents.
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) will take a lead role in coordinating action across 10 state agencies. The law directs those agencies to consider cumulative environmental burdens and access to environmental benefits when making decisions about projects related to the environment, energy, climate, and public health projects; facilities and infrastructure; and associated funding.
The ANR’s first step will be to establish an Advisory Council on Environmental Justice and an Interagency EJ Committee to guide the implementation of the state’s EJ policy. These bodies will develop core principles to be embedded into each agency’s plan for engaging EJ communities in evaluations of new and existing activities and programs.
The ANR will develop guidance to help agencies direct investments with environmental benefits to environmental justice populations. The law also directs the ANR to create a statewide EJ mapping tool to aid in identifying environmentally overburdened communities.
More information about the legislation, including the full text of the law, is available here.