The State Senate just took a major step towards environmental justice (EJ) in Vermont. S.148, which would be the state’s first environmental justice law, passed Tuesday on an overwhelming, tri-partisan 28-1 vote.
We at VPIRG have joined dozens of groups supporting 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.
Now, the bill moves to the House. That’s why now is the perfect time to reach out to your State Representative(s) in support of passing Vermont’s first environmental justice law.
S.148 as passed by the Vermont Senate 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 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
This bill represents a step forward for justice and equity in Vermont, charting a road map towards a fairer future. I hope you’ll join me in reaching out to your local Representative(s) in support of S.148.
Earlier this legislative session, over 300 VPIRG members and supporters signed a petition in support of S.148 that we delivered to Vermont Senate. It\’s this kind of grassroots energy that has gotten the bill this far – stay tuned for more ways to get involved!
*Although this represents a strong step forward, we will be pushing for the House to adequately fund the EJ Advisory Council and compensate community members appropriately for their expertise. Please consider urging your Reps to support providing these resources to the EJ Advisory Council in your note.