Environmental Justice in Budgeting and Funding

Under the HEAL Act, the Department of Health (DOH) must consider environmental justice principles when making decisions about budgets or funding for programs that create environmental benefits or address or cause environmental harms. Starting July 1, 2023, we must take the following actions when making these types of decisions or developing budget requests: 

  • Directing funding to creating environmental benefits, reducing or eliminating environmental harms, and improving community resilience and quality of life for overburdened communities and vulnerable populations. 
  • Creating opportunities for members of overburdened communities and vulnerable populations to meaningfully participate in agency decision-making around funding.
  • Using environmental justice goals and performance metrics to justify decisions.
  • Creating grant and contract opportunities, including: 
    • Community grants to monitor pollution.
    • Capacity-building grants for community scientists and other staff.
    • Technical assistance for communities to support in accessing agency grants.
    • Building leadership skills and career pathways for youth focused on infrastructure or utilities.
  • Setting a goal of directing 40% of funding for programs that create environmental benefits to go to overburdened communities and vulnerable populations. 

Covered Programs 

To accomplish the above goals, we are focusing on where we can create the greatest impact. This includes finding opportunities to direct or influence spending to overburdened communities and vulnerable populations and to prioritize reducing or eliminating environmental harms and equitably distributing environmental benefits. 

The list below includes the types of processes we will use to make decisions about our budget and where we will focus initially. To do this, HEAL Act staff are partnering with our Office of Policy, Planning, and Evaluation to identify if a proposed program or policy will create environmental benefits or harms. We will continue to update this list over time.  

  • Agency request legislation 
  • Decision packages 
  • Fiscal notes during legislative session 

Learn more about the state's budget cycle and process (PDF)

Additionally, we are able to direct resources through “pass-through” funding from the legislature and awarding DOH-administered grants to community partners. To the best of our ability, we will work to bring environmental justice principles into decisions around how and who to direct funding to. We’ve identified the following programs and grants from the previous budget cycle: 

  • Local Health Jurisdiction Air quality 
  • Climate Commitment Act Expenditures Tracking 
  • Clean Energy Permitting 
  • Climate Health Adaption Initiative 
  • Local Government Climate Planning 
  • Climate Plus Grants for Schools 
  • Climate Change Response Strategy 
  • Cosmetic Product Chemicals 
  • Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act Democratic Processes 
  • HEAL Act Implementation 
  • Climate Commitment Act Implementation 
  • Environmental Health Disparities Map Capacity Grants 
  • Climate Impact Worker Safety 
  • Participatory Budget Grant Program 
  • Private Detention Facilities 
  • Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Chemicals 
  • Sewage Treatment Solutions Study 
  • Wildland Fire Safety 
  • Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) Set Asides Allotment Increase 
  • Options for Tainted Drinking Water 

We will continue to review our overall agency budget and existing programs over the next few months. As we identify additional programs, we will update the list of covered programs. As we develop new processes and policies related to our budgeting and funding decisions, or update existing policies, we will assess how they align with the requirements of the HEAL Act. 

Environmental Harms and Benefits 

The HEAL Act applies to programs that create environmental harms and benefits. To determine if a program is covered, we ask the following questions: 

  1. Does this action have the potential to impact individual or community exposure to toxic chemicals, pollutants, hazards, or other harms? (examples: Lead, wildfire smoke, PFAS, nitrates)
  2. Does this action have the potential to impact the built environment for individuals or communities? (examples: Internet access, transportation infrastructure, access to health services)
  3. Does this action have the potential to impact access to environmental resources or benefits for individuals or communities? (examples: Cultural resources, clean air or water, access to nature)  
  4. Does this action have any other foreseeable potential impacts to environmental health?
  5. Are there any other reasons not otherwise stated why this action may cause environmental harms or benefits, as defined under by Chapter 70A.02.010 RCW

If the answer is "Yes" to at least one of the questions listed above, then the program must follow the requirements of the HEAL Act. 

For questions about environmental justice and budgeting, contact the DOH HEAL Act team. To receive email updates from the DOH HEAL Act team, subscribe to our email list.