Vermont is regarded as a state with a strong record on environmental issues. However, Vermont is one of the few states without a law concerning environmental justice. The practice in Vermont has been for state agencies and departments to create solutions to environmental issues, and then seek input from the public.
We believe that the concerns of the public should be the driving force in formulating policy. In particular, the voices of traditionally marginalized communities are not adequately heard, including Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), low-income persons, and persons with limited English proficiency.
At the same time, these same communities disproportionately bear the burdens of environmental problems, yet are also denied an equal share of the benefits of policies aimed at assuring a clean and healthy environment.
WHAT S.148 does
S.148 would create an environmental justice policy that assures no one in Vermont, because of their racial, cultural, or economic identity and circumstances should disproportionately bear environmental burdens or disproportionately be denied environmental benefits, and would create an initial definition of “environmental justice populations” based on demographic criteria known to be associated with environmental disparities.
S.148 would establish an Environmental Justice Advisory Council to assure meaningful participation of all Vermonters, including EJ populations. S.148 sets a goal of spending at least 55 percent of environmental, renewable energy, climate mitigation, transportation, and climate resilience funds on EJ populations.
WHERE S.148 stands
The Senate passed S.148 on an overwhelming, tri-partisan 28-1 vote. It is now up to the House to take action. S.148 is currently being heard in the House Committee on Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife. For it to become law this year, the committee needs to vote the bill out, so it can make its way through the House Appropriations Committee then the full House can vote on it while making sure there’s enough time for the Senate to approve any changes. This all needs to be done before the session ends in early May.
If you agree that S.148 should be passed to establish and assure environmental justice in Vermont, please sign this petition.