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Environmental Health and Justice 2021-2022 Legislation

Multiple bills have been proposed that would look at implications of actions on environmental health and justice.

HB 339 – GA Environmental Justice Act

HB 339, the Georgia Environmental Justice Act of 2021, creates a 22-member commission to conduct scientific analysis, including case studies, and prepare a report on target facilities that require environmental permits. These commission will analyze 1) health statistics of the population surrounding each site, 2) past violations of human health, 3) economic factors that caused facilities that have health implications to be placed in low-income or predominantly Black communities, and 4) policies that influenced these land use decisions. The purpose of these reports is to better understand the neighborhoods that are particularly at high risk from threats to human health, and understand how to create more equitable outcomes.

CriteriaScoreAssessment  
Scientific MeritFollows ScienceYes, this does follow scientific research accurately. The commission is collecting research that measures existing environmental injustice in Georgia, to better understand how to prevent environmental injustice. This is the first proposed legislation in Georgia that directly addresses environmental justice.  
Stakeholder PerceptionPositiveMajority of stakeholders agree. This bill affects those that live close to superfund sites, industrial plants, or waste sites, as well as those in high environmental risk areas. There is support from many environmental stakeholders including Sierra Club and Protect Georgia. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has not taken a stance on the bill.  
Reach  All ImpactedAffects all target audience equally. The target audience are communities near environmentally regulated sites.  
Measurable Impacts?  Mostly TrackableAll data available to track metrics. Data will be collected but is not specified whether it will be publicly available or acted on.  
Political Feasibility  Party-Line SplitDemocrat sponsored bill. No votes have been conducted yet.

HB 432 – Environmental Justice Impact Statements

HB 432 will establish additional permit application requirements for new or expanded facilities that are located in overburdened communities, which the bill defines as communities that are low income, minority, or where community members have limited English proficiency. These new requirements include:  the preparation of an environmental justice impact statement, the issuance of the environmental justice impact statement to the department and to the local government in which the community is located, and public hearings in the community.

CriteriaScoreAssessment  
Scientific MeritFollows ScienceYes, this does follow scientific research accurately. HB 432 requires preparation of an environmental impact statement prior to any new or expanded facilities in any overburdened communities (low income, minority, limited English proficiency), where polluting infrastructure has been historically placed. This would help to ensure these communities do not face additional environmental burdens.  
Stakeholder PerceptionPositiveMajority of stakeholders agree. Stakeholders include overburdened communities that could benefit from increased regulation to prevent pollution. Environmental organizations such as Protect Georgia and Georgia Conservancy support the bill. The facilities of interest may oppose this bill because of the expanded time required to receive certification for new builds, but no public commentary has been found.  
Reach  All Impacted  Affects all target audiences equally. All overburdened communities would be subject to environmental justice reviews.  
Measurable Impacts  Complete TransparencyAll data available to track metrics. Environmental Impact statement will be available to the public.  
Political FeasibilityParty-line SplitDemocrat sponsored bill. No votes have been conducted yet.  
Updated on December 16, 2021

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