What is Environmental Justice?
State law defines environmental justice (EJ) as "equal protection from environmental and public health hazards for all people regardless of race, income, culture, and social status."
What is MDE's Environmental Justice Mission?
To prioritize environmental health in all communities, with a particular focus in communities with environmental justice concerns, through increased permitting, enforcement, compliance monitoring, and resource allocation.
Why is Environmental Justice Important?
Historically, minorities, low income, and limited English proficiency communities have carried the burden of living in close proximity to hazardous facilities and have been exposed to increasing pollution. The goal of MDE's EJ initiatives is to ensure fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, especially those in communities with EJ concerns who have often been overlooked.
All residents of the State of Maryland have a right to live, learn, work, and play in a clean and healthy environment. MDE's internal EJ policy and implementation plan prioritizes public participation with communities with EJ concerns at the beginning and throughout MDE's permitting process.
How is MDE Implementing Environmental Justice?
Identify agency responsibilities
- Integrate and incorporate EJ activities into state operations
Recognize EJ concerns with collaborative approaches
- Educate state regulators on EJ and sustainable communities, with specialized focus given to underserved and overburdened communities
- Strengthen government infrastructure at local levels to support underserved and overburdened communities
- Efficiently build a network of people who are knowledgeable about the issues of concerns to share expertise and advance the EJ agenda in Maryland, this includes reaching out to local businesses, legislators, planning and community organizations, non-profits, and the academic community
- Collaborate with the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities.
- Optimize limited state resources
- Solutions could appear in the form of increased public participation and educations, public-private partnerships, innovative outreach advertising, and strategic enforcement.