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Home > Publications > DRAFT Environmental Equity Policy

Environmental Equity in Reuse and Cleanup of Contaminated Properties Stakeholder Group

EE Stakeholder Workgroup Invitation Letter
June 2006

Una Declaración sobre la Justícia Ambiental!

Environmental Equity Progress Report
July 2002

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management
DRAFT Environmental Equity Policy

DEM has developed a draft Environmental Equity Policy, featured below, and we are eager to receive any feedback or comments from the public regarding the policy statement itself as well as suggestions on specific implementation actions we can take. DEM is currently considering and developing implementation guidelines and tasks to carry out this policy effectively. We hope that implementing this policy will further ensure the fair and equitable treatment of all Rhode Islanders with respect to our policies, programs and actions.

The Department is developing implementation guidelines and tasks to carry out this policy effectively. Currently, we are working on the following interim implementation tasks:
  • Researching multi lingual services for our constituents such as brochures, information on the web or over the phone.
  • Researching disproportional impacts of environmental benefits or burdens using Geographical Information Systems technology.
  • Review of policies, regulations, and procedures by all Divisions and Programs for any potential Environmental Equity impacts.
  • Internal committee is studying more effective ways the Department can conduct public outreach and educational activities so that we can engage more of the public.
  • Working with EPA New England and other states in the New England region to develop guidelines for public participation, improve implementation procedures, and educate staff regarding Environmental Equity concerns.
  • Series of workshops planned for the fall to educate staff on the Environmental Equity issues and policy implementation.
  • External Advisory Committee will be invited to meet with DEM staff in the fall to advise on the policy and particularly on education and outreach strategies that will be most effective.
If you have any comments or questions please contact Elizabeth Stone at 222-4700 x2422 in the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy. You can also send comments or questions via email to

By law, all Rhode Islanders have a right to enjoy a clean and healthy environment. The Department must, therefore, be affirmative in guarding against environmental discrimination and working towards environmental equity. For purposes of this policy, environmental equity means that no person or particular group of persons suffers disproportionately from environmental degradation or intentional discrimination, or is denied enjoyment of a fair share of environmental improvements.

Equity does not mean that it is possible to guarantee all people and communities an identical environmental experience or identical shares of environmental benefits and burdens. Rather, equity requires that benefits and burdens in general be distributed fairly. As the Department develops, implements and evaluates its policies, programs and actions, it must strive to achieve, restore or maintain a fair distribution. In pursuing this goal, the Department must be particularly sensitive to the interests of groups of people who are afforded special protection under federal and state anti-discrimination laws.

An effective environmental equity policy requires meaningful opportunities for affected or potentially affected parties to have input into policy development, programmatic planning and decision-making by the Department. The Department's objective is to provide for proactive consideration of environmental equity concerns, in early stages, before case-specific decisions such as regulatory approvals are made. This policy presumes that after-the-fact challenges to specific decisions are not an effective way to promote environmental equity.

For General Information 222-6800 After Hours Emergencies 222-3070 Disclaimer
rev. 10/29/08