Acting on Environmental Justice

Every Vermonter deserves access to a healthy environment that can help provide for a fulfilling life – whether that\’s in the form of clean affordable energy, clean air and water, access to 21st century transportation and healthy food options, a comfortable home, or just the great outdoors. And no segment of the population should, because of its racial, cultural, or economic makeup, bear a disproportionate share of environmental burdens. That’s why VPIRG is working with a broad, diverse coalition of partners to pass Vermont’s first environmental justice policy this legislative session.  

I hope you’ll join me in signing this petition supporting the passage of S.148, Vermont’s first environmental justice policy: ADD YOUR NAME!    

S.148, introduced last year, would make the pursuit of environmental justice state policy in Vermont. This is in recognition that low income, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and other disadvantaged populations in the state often lack access to environmental benefits and tend to suffer disproportionately from environmental harms. 

The bill would also task state agencies with incorporating environmental justice into their work, establish an Advisory Council on Environmental Justice made up of key stakeholders to recommend policies and procedures to meaningfully engage disadvantaged populations statewide, and create a mapping tool to depict environmental justice issues in the state.  

We would also want any policy to identify particularly impacted communities and ensure adequate funding goes to these Vermonters.  

As we see it, it\’s past time that Vermont codifies an environmental justice policy – something many other states have already done. Passing this bill is one of many critical steps in the process of achieving environmental justice in Vermont. Not having this policy in place is a missed opportunity to coordinate community efforts to promote learning, resource-sharing, and action to prevent environmental harm and deliver environmental benefits in a just and transparent way across the state.  

And, passing this policy is just one component of advancing environmental justice in Vermont. Our work to act boldly on the climate crisis and other environmental issues should center justice and equity, informed by an understanding of disproportionate positive and negative impact. And it should be done in a way that meaningfully engages with Vermonters in their communities.  S.148 would support such statewide and community-led efforts – which is why we are working hard to see it pass the legislature this year.   

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