Environmental Justice in California
In September 2016, the California State Legislature passed Senate Bill 1000, which requires cities and counties with disadvantaged communities to incorporate Environmental Justice policies into their General Plans. Environmental Justice is defined as “the fair treatment of people of all races, cultures, and incomes with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies, as defined in section 65040.12(e) of California Government Code.
Tulare County Environmental Element
The Tulare County Resource Management Agency has undertaken efforts to develop a Environmental Element to satisfy SB 1000 requirements and pursue environmental justice throughout the county. The state requirement was triggered by the County’s decision to create and adopt two other General Plan amendments. The Element will relate environmental justice to a minimum of the following topics:
Pollution Exposure, Air Quality, Public Facilities, Healthy Food Access, Safe and Sanitary Homes, and Physical Activity.
In addition, the Element will aim to promote civil engagement and prioritize programs that benefit disadvantaged communities.
The Environmental Justice Advisory Committee is a a formal body created to advise the Resource Management Agency and ensure the adoption of a strong Environmental Justice Element to improve the quality of life for disadvantaged communities. In addition, the committee supports engagement and public outreach to facilitate a more equitable process. The Committee currently consists of individuals who work for local community-based organizations and County staff. Committee members donate their time to attend committee meetings and provide invaluable document feedback and technical assistance.