2021 Leg Session, CDPHE, Environment, Featured, Gold Dome, Sherrie Peif

New environmental justice task force seeks public input; addressing statewide ‘inequities’ on the agenda

DENVER — The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) is seeking public input on “environmental justice” as required under a bill passed by the state legislature in 2021.

House Bill 21-1266 aims to “redress the effects of environmental injustice on disproportionality impacted communities,” and created the “environmental justice action task force” to propose recommendations to law makers on how to address those inequities.

Now the task force is asking for feedback from community members on what recommendations they should send to the state legislature.

“Hearing directly from Coloradans, especially those impacted by environmental pollution, is critical in our work toward advancing environmental justice,” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director of CDPHE in a July 12 news release. “The more we hear from our communities, the better the recommendations made by the Environmental Justice Action Task Force can address environmental justice inequities across the state.”

According to the news release, CDPHE needs help in determining:

  • The definition of “disproportionately impacted communities.” How this is defined will impact future resources available to those communities.
  • How companies that break environmental law or violate terms of their permits should work with communities by funding projects that protect the environment and reduce pollution in their neighborhoods.
  • How the Legislature might fund studies to understand the cumulative impacts that lead to worse health outcomes in a community. According to the release, cumulative impacts are the combination of pollution in the air, water and soil, and can include other factors that impact our health, like access to fresh food and green spaces to exercise.

Under HB 1266, a disproportionately impacted community is defined as: “A community that is in a census block group where the proportion of households that are low income, that identify as minority, or that are housing cost-burdened (by) greater than 40 percent; or any other community as identified or approved by a state agency, if the community has a history of environmental racism perpetuated through redlining, anti-indigenous, anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic, or anti-black laws; or is one where multiple factors may act cumulatively to affect health and the environment and contribute to persistent disparities.”

The news release says that the recommendations may help state agencies determine which communities will get funding, inspections and actions to decrease pollution.

Ideas for the task force can be shared by either:

The deadline for the public to submit comments in time to make the first draft is July 25. You can submit comments after that date, but they may not make the first draft.  There will be another opportunity to submit comments after an August 25 meeting.

The Task Force must send its final recommendations to the legislature, Governor Polis, and CDPHE by Nov. 14.



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