Join the DOH HEAL Implementation Team!
Community Engagement Plan
The passage of the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act in 2021 is a historic step toward eliminating environmental and health disparities among communities of color and low income households. It is the first statewide law in Washington to create a coordinated state agency approach to environmental justice.
The law covers seven state agencies: the Washington State Department of Health (DOH); the state departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Ecology, Natural Resources, and Transportation; and Puget Sound Partnership. It allows other agencies to opt in. The HEAL Act builds on and implements some of the key recommendations from the Environmental Justice Task Force (PDF). Some key elements include:
Defining Environmental Justice
The law establishes a clear definition for Washington that builds on the Environmental Protection Agency's definition of environmental justice:
“Environmental justice means 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, rules, and policies. Environmental justice includes addressing disproportionate environmental health impacts in all laws, rules, and policies with environmental impacts by prioritizing vulnerable populations and overburdened communities, the equitable distribution of resources and benefits, and eliminating harm.”
This video explains the disproportionate impacts of environmental burdens on people with low incomes and people of color. For more information visit the EPA's Environmental Justice website.
Environmental Justice Council
The law also creates an Environmental Justice Council to provide recommendations and guidance to the state and an Interagency Workgroup to assist with technical coordination among the state agencies.
Agency Coordination and Requirements
The law gives agencies standards of practice and seeks to accelerate and coordinate work. DOH is required to convene an interagency workgroup to support Environmental Justice Council work and ensure coordination among agencies.
Agencies are required to:
Role of the Washington Tracking Network
Washington Tracking Network (WTN) is a DOH program focused on making public health data more accessible. This data includes our Environmental Health Disparities (EHD) map, an interactive mapping tool that compares communities across our state for environmental health disparities, and provides insights into where public investments can be prioritized. With the passage of the HEAL Act, the EHD map is identified as a resource to agency decision-making and requires DOH to maintain and expand the map. The law also requires the Washington State Institute for Public Policy to conduct a technical review of the map.
Under the new law, WTN will:
The following are some of the key milestones required:
Note: The Climate Commitment Act (CCA) requires the Environmental Justice Council to advise on several elements of climate programs and receive reports on certain aspects of the implementation of this law. This timeline will be updated as more information is available.
Environmental Justice Speaker Series
This series was developed to highlight the leadership and expertise of community advocates and leaders and to learn from the work they’re doing to advance environmental justice for tribes and communities across Washington state.
Recording: April 19, 2023 - Environmental Justice and Sense of Place featuring Twa-le Abrahamson-Swan (Spokane) from River Warrior Society and Shelly Boyd (Sinixt).
Recording: April 26, 2023 - Occupational Safety, Worker Health, and Environmental Justice featuring Edgar Franks from Familias Unidas por la Justicia and Rosalinda Guillen from Community to Community.
Recording: May 3, 2023 - Tribal Indigenous Perspectives on Environmental and Climate Justice featuring Pah-tu Pitt (Warm Springs/Wasco) from Native Kut and Jay Julius (Lummi) from Se’Si’Le and Julius Consulting LLC.
Recording: May 10, 2023 - Youth Perspectives on Environmental and Climate Justice featuring Neli Jasuja, Andrea Martinez, Fatima Camara, Jaydalen Blossom, and Emma Coopersmith from Young Women Empowered’s Y-WE Grow program.
Recording: May 17, 2023 - Environmental Justice and Community Co-Governance: A Conversation Between Community and State Agency Staff featuring Faduma Fido from Peoples Economy Lab, Nirae Petty from the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, Charmila Ajmera from the Washington State Department of Health, and Rowena Pineda from the Washington State Environmental Justice Council.
Recording: May 24, 2023 - The Role of Community-Based Participatory Research in Achieving Environmental Justice and Reducing Environmental Health Disparities featuring Dr. Anjum Hajat from the University of Washington Department of Epidemiology and Paulina López and Lissette Palestro from the Duwamish River Community Coalition.
Reports and Information
- Spanish: Estado de Washington invierte en justicia ambiental a través de Ley HEAL (PDF)
- Vietnamese: Tiểu Bang Washington đầu tư vào công bằng môi trường thông qua HEAL Act (PDF)
- Russian: Власти штата Вашингтон делают вклад в экологическую справедливость в рамках HEAL Act (PDF)