S.148, the environmental justice bill, is headed to the governor’s desk! After initially passing out of the State Senate in late March, the Senate has now concurred with the version of the bill passed resoundingly by the House just days ago. This legislative victory puts Vermont on track to enact its first environmental justice law, and we’re calling on Governor Scott to sign it.
S.148 incorporates several best practices from other states who have already passed environmental justice legislation, including:
- Strengthening statewide community engagement efforts
- Creating an EJ Advisory Council made up of community members with experience and expertise on environmental justice issues
- Encouraging proactive investments in chronically underserved communities, modeled in part after the Justice40 initiative at the federal level
- Improving interagency coordination and collaboration
- Requiring the creation and maintenance of a mapping tool depicting environmental justice issues that can aid in state and local decision-making, public education, and engagement efforts
Through their work on the bill, the Vermont House rejected calls from the Scott administration to significantly weaken S.148, and amended it to enable the Environmental Justice Advisory Council to access necessary resources to fund their public outreach.
VPIRG and our allies have been working to pass this bill because we see it as an essential step to bring more communities to the environmental decision-making table and make sure no one is left behind in our work to address the climate crisis, protect and restore our environment, and build a Vermont where all can thrive.
Over 300 VPIRG members and supporters signed a petition in support of S.148 that we delivered to the Vermont Senate. Now, thanks to the tireless work of our members, advocates, and partner organizations, and numerous state senators and representatives, S.148 has cleared its final legislative hurdle. The last stop for the environmental justice bill before becoming law will be the governor’s desk – please, take a moment and urge Governor Scott to sign S.148!