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Introduced by   Representatives Weston of Burlington, Barnard of Richmond, Cheney of Norwich, Edwards of Brattleboro, Johnson of South Hero, Larson of Burlington, Lippert of Hinesburg, Lorber of Burlington, Mitchell of Barnard, Pearson of Burlington and Trombley of Grand Isle

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Conservation and development; environmental justice

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to establish an environmental justice policy for the state of Vermont and would establish an advisory committee on environmental justice within the agency of natural resources to advise the state on environmental justice issues.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:


The general assembly finds that:

(1)  Environmental justice is the principle that regardless of race, national origin, age, or income, no segment of the population should bear disproportionately high and adverse effects of environmental pollution.

(2)  The state supports and is committed to the principle of environmental justice and equal protection of all citizens of the state.

(3)  No community should disproportionately suffer the negative environmental impacts from industrial or commercial operations or the implementation of municipal programs or policies.

(4)  Environmental justice considerations should be integrated into the state requirements for planning and zoning.

Sec. 2.  3 V.S.A. § 2296 is added to read:


(a)  As used in this section:

(1)  “Environmental justice” means the principle that all people should be protected from exposure to pollution sources and should have the right to a clean and healthy environment regardless of race, income, culture or social class.

(2)  “Pollution sources” mean industrial or commercial activities or sources that produce emissions, discharges, noise, or odors harmful to human health or the environment.  “Pollution sources” does not mean facilities producing renewable energy as that term is defined in subdivision 8002(3) of Title 30, except that the burning or incineration of biomass shall be considered a pollution source.

(b)  It is the general policy of the state of Vermont that no segment of the population of the state should, because of its racial, cultural, or economic makeup, bear a disproportionate share of the risks and consequences of environmental pollution or be denied equal access to environmental benefits.

(c)(1)  There is created an advisory committee on environmental justice within the agency of natural resources to provide independent advice and recommendations to the agency of natural resources and the state on matters relating to environmental justice, including the integration of environmental justice principles into state programs, policies, regulations, legislation, and activities.  The committee shall:

(A)  Advise the agency of natural resources, the agency of administration, and other state agencies on environmental justice issues;

(B)  Review and analyze the impact of current state statutes, regulations, and policies on the issue of environmental justice;

(C)  Assess whether state statutes, regulations, and policies adequately address the issue of environmental justice;

(D)  Develop criteria to assess whether communities in the state may be experiencing environmental justice issues;

(E)  Receive and review complaints from individuals alleging environmental justice issues;

(F)  Recommend options to the agency of natural resources and the agency of administration for the resolution of environmental justice issues or problems identified by the committee under subdivisions (c)(1)(A)–(E) of this section; and

(G)  Develop education materials and conduct educational programs regarding environmental justice.

(2)  The committee shall consist of the following members:

(A)  One member of the house of representatives appointed by the speaker of the house;

(B)  One member of the senate appointed by the committee on committees;

(C)  The secretary of administration or his or her designee;

(D)  The secretary of natural resources or his or her designee;

(E)  The commissioner of health or his or her designee;

(F)  One municipal zoning administrator recommended by the Vermont league of cities and towns;

(G)  One representative of a statewide environmental organization appointed by the speaker of the house;

(H)  One representative of business or industry appointed by the governor;

(I)  One member of the human rights commission to be recommended by the commission;

(J)  One member of a community affected by environmental justice issues recommended by the Vermont natural resources council; and

(K)  One member of the general public appointed by the committee on committees.

(3)  The committee may elect a chair and a vice chair and may hold public hearings.  The agency of natural resources shall provide support for the committee.

(4)  All members of the committee shall serve on the committee for a three-year term unless circumstances dictate a permanent replacement.  Vacancies shall be appointed in the same manner as original appointments.

Sec. 3.  10 V.S.A. § 6086(a) is amended to read:

(a)  Before granting a permit, the district commission shall find that the subdivision or development:

(1)  Will not result in undue water or air pollution.  In making this determination it shall at least consider: the elevation of land above sea level; and in relation to the flood plains, the nature of soils and subsoils and their ability to adequately support waste disposal; the slope of the land and its effect on effluents; the availability of streams for disposal of effluents; and the applicable health and environmental conservation department regulations.

* * *

(11)  Will not result in a community or population being exposed to a disproportionately high share of environmental pollution due to the race, national origin, age, or income of the community or population.

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont