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05/20/2024 07:05 PM
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: July 20, 2023 11:48 AM
From: Senator Art Haywood and Sen. Amanda M. Cappelletti, Sen. Maria Collett, Sen. Carolyn T. Comitta, Sen. Judith L. Schwank, Sen. Anthony H. Williams
To: All Senate members
Subject: Environmental Justice Permits
Our world’s changing climate does not discriminate based on race or ethnicity. Unfortunately, the devastating effects of climate change disproportionately impact those who suffer from socioeconomic inequalities, particularly Black and brown individuals. This so-called environmental racism has plagued burdened communities for far too long.
Residents of disadvantaged communities are often powerless against the construction of facilities such as incinerators, landfills, and sewage plants, as they typically lack the clout necessary to influence decision-makers. Communities are left to deal with the consequences, which pollute the local environment, drive down property values, and even poison citizens as chemicals seep into the water they drink and air they breathe.

To address this injustice, we will be introducing legislation that would require a more transparent and open process before certain facilities are built or expanded within areas defined as “burdened communities.” Builders of these facilities seeking permits would first have to prepare an environmental impact statement that includes any potential negative impacts a facility may have on the surrounding area. After the completion of this process, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection would have the power to deny a permit application if it finds that the cumulative impacts of the facility on the community would be too great to justify its approval.

The constitutional right to a clean environment is guaranteed to all, not only to those with the funding to lobby government officials. This legislation would be another step towards upholding that right.
Please join us in cosponsoring this legislation to ensure that all voices – including those of the most vulnerable – are heard before decisions that impact public health and safety are made.

Introduced as SB888