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Environmental Justice Committee

The Cascade Chapter Environmental Justice Committee ("EJC") was formed Conservation Committee’s annual planning meeting in November 2008. The EJC began operations in January 2009. During a meeting on February 19, 2009, the EJC adopted the following strategic plan for 2009:

2009 Strategic Goals

1.                 Help the Chapter identify and work on new environmental justice issues.

The Chapter has had little involvement in many important local and state-wide environmental justice issues over the last several years. For example, there are several human health/toxics issues in South Seattle that have received little attention from the Chapter. There are also issues east of the Cascade Crest—such pesticide exposures in farmworker communities—that have received little attention from the Chapter. The EJC will monitor such issues and seek out opportunities for Chapter involvement in coordination with the appropriate issue committees and groups.   

2.                 Provide support to Chapter’s committees and groups on environmental justice issues.

Many of the issues that the Chapter is currently working on raise environmental justice concerns. For example, the Chapter’s current work on the Centralia coal plant concerns community exposure to mercury and other toxics, and it also raises concerns relating to the displacement of workers. The EJC will serve as a resource by helping the Chapter’s committees and groups identify and address the environmental justice dimensions of their work.

3.                 Influence state and local decision-makers to incorporate environmental justice concerns into policies, laws, and principles.

The EJC will seek to affirmatively influence state and local decision-makers to ensure that their policies protect and promote environmental justice. We have already begun this work through our involvement on issues relating to drayage trucks in the Port of Seattle.

4.                 Make the Cascade Chapter a recognized player on environmental justice issues.

Both the national Sierra Club and the Cascade Chapter have been criticized for failing to address the environmental justice implications of their past actions and for being insensitive to the concerns of community and public health groups. The EJC will work both substantively and through messaging to help rehabilitate this image and foster a coalition between community groups, public health groups, cultural organizations, labor unions, and environmental groups.

5.                 Extend the reach of the Cascade Chapter east of the Cascades.

The Cascade Chapter has recently extended its jurisdiction further into Eastern Washington, where there are many environmental justice issues relating to toxic exposures (e.g., pesticides, Hanford), and access to resources (e.g., water rights, fishing rights for Tribes). We will work to build coalitions with groups in Eastern Washington and help develop the Cascade Chapter’s presence east of the Cascade Crest.

6.                 Diversify the Cascade Chapter.

There is a perceived lack of cultural, ethnic, and socio-economic diversity in the Cascade Chapter. The EJC will seek to foster increased diversity within the Chapter by working on environmental justice issues that are of particular concern to under-represented community groups and by providing new opportunities for persons with diverse backgrounds to become involved with the Chapter and the environmental movement.