Environmental Resources and Energy committee approves environmental justice legislation

HARRISBURG, June 6 – A bill sponsored by state reps. Donna Bullock, Malcolm Kenyatta and Chris Rabb, all D-Phila., that would require an environmental impact statement be produced before the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issues a permit for the building of certain facilities in environmental justice areas passed the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee today.

“Environmental racism is a longstanding issue in the commonwealth. Facilities that pollute the environment have been built in burdened communities without their consent because they lacked the influence to stop it. Enough is enough,” Bullock said. “By empowering the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to deny a permit application if the environmental impacts are found to be too harmful and requiring DEP to consider public testimony, we are putting the power in the hands of the community.”

“Incinerators, landfills, sewage plants — there’s a long history of environmentally harmful facilities like these being built in Pennsylvania’s most marginalized communities, polluting the environment, poisoning the water and lowering property values, disproportionately impacting Black and brown households whose homes are often their own financial asset,” Rabb said. “It’s time to substantially combat environmental racism. A clean environment is a constitutional right that is guaranteed to everyone, not just those with the clout to influence decision-makers. This legislation is a step toward honoring and upholding that right.”

“For far too long, burdened communities — especially communities of color — have been plagued with environmental hazards,” Kenyatta said. “HB652 would take the necessary precautions to prevent these hazardous conditions and help address environmental racism in these communities across the commonwealth. Moving this bill out of committee is a step in the right direction — now we need our House colleagues to join us in sending it to the Senate!”

The bill will now go to the House floor.