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(1) The purpose of this chapter is to reduce environmental and health disparities in Washington state and improve the health of all Washington state residents. This chapter implements the recommendations of the environmental justice task force established in section 221(48), chapter 415, Laws of 2019 entitled "Report to the Washington state governor and legislature, Environmental Justice Task Force: Recommendations for Prioritizing EJ in Washington State Government (October 2020)."
(2) As conveyed in the task force report, Washington state studies and national studies found that people of color and low-income people continue to be disproportionately exposed to environmental harms in their communities. As a result, there is a higher risk of adverse health outcomes for those communities. This risk is amplified when overlaid on communities with preexisting social and economic barriers and environmental risks, and creates cumulative environmental health impacts, which chapter 314, Laws of 2021 seeks to prevent and mitigate.
This chapter also seeks to reduce exposure to environmental hazards within Indian country, as defined in 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1151, due to off-reservation activities within the state, and to improve state practices to reduce contamination of traditional foods wherever they occur. Exposure to such hazards can result in generational health and ecological problems, particularly on small reservations where it is impossible to move away from a hazard.
(3) Accordingly, the state has a compelling interest in preventing and addressing such environmental health disparities in the administration of ongoing and new environmental programs, including allocation of funds, and in administering these programs so as to remedy the effects of past disparate treatment of overburdened communities and vulnerable populations.
(4) The task force provided recommendations to state agencies for measurable goals and model policies to reduce environmental health inequities in Washington, equitable practices for meaningful community involvement, and how to use the environmental health disparities map to identify and promote the equitable distribution of environmental benefits to overburdened communities. In order for all communities in Washington state to be healthy and thriving, state government should aim to concentrate government actions to benefit communities that currently have the greatest environmental and health burdens.


Conflict with federal requirements2021 c 314: "If any part of this act is found to be in conflict with federal requirements that are a prescribed condition to the allocation of federal funds to the state, the conflicting part of this act is inoperative solely to the extent of the conflict and with respect to the agencies directly affected, and this finding does not affect the operation of the remainder of this act in its application to the agencies concerned. Rules adopted under this act must meet federal requirements that are a necessary condition to the receipt of federal funds by the state." [ 2021 c 314 § 27.]
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