The HEAL Act creates a coordinated approach to reducing environmental and health disparities across Washington State. This will be done by integrating EJ principles, practices, and assessments into several state agency activities, including: strategic plans, community engagement plans, and decision processes for budget development, expenditures, and granting or withholding benefits.
The HEAL Act requires seven state agencies to apply specific EJ requirements to agency actions. These agencies are the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Ecology, Health, Natural Resources, and Transportation, and the Puget Sound Partnership. Other agencies may opt-in to implement the HEAL Act.
The HEAL Act establishes the EJ Council. Members of the EJ Council are appointed by the Governor and advise covered and opt-in agencies on incorporating EJ into agency activities.
The HEAL Act places an emphasis on the prioritization of vulnerable populations and overburdened communities within agency efforts in EJ activities.
The HEAL Act directs the Department of Health to continue maintaining and regularly updating the Washington Environmental Health Disparities (EHD) Map.
The HEAL Act requires implementing agencies (referring to agencies required to implement and agencies who have opted-in to implement) to create and adopt a range of deliverables on a specific timeline. Agencies required to implement the HEAL Act must abide by the timeline laid out in the legislation, while agencies who opt-in are not bound to the timeline. The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) opted-in to the HEAL Act in 2021, and strives to meet the deadlines in the legislation to the best of our ability.
In addition to the deliverables required by the HEAL Act, the Tribal Liaisons from state agencies implementing the HEAL Act are developing guidance for tribal engagement. This guidance includes best practices for conducting government-to-government engagement and best practices for engaging with Native American communities separate from government-to-government engagement. The AGO anticipates implementing this guidance when it is ready.
If you have any questions or would like to connect with the AGO about the HEAL Act and environmental justice, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Statutory Deadline||Deliverable||Description||Current Status|
|No deadline||Tribal Consultation Framework||Implementing agencies must adopt a tribal consultation process, created in coordination with tribal governments, which includes best practices, protocols for communication and collaboration with federally recognized tribes.||Completed – the AGO adopted our Tribal Consent and Consultation Policy (free, prior, and informed consent) in May 2019, which details the process for government-to-government consultation between the AGO and Tribes. The policy was the first of its kind in Washington state and has been in effect since May 2019.|
|July 1, 2022||Community Engagement Plan||Implementing agencies must create and adopt a community engagement plan that describes methods, practices, and principles for meaningful, direct, and equitable participation and involvement of community when an agency engages in a significant agency action and/or environmental justice work.||
DRAFT – the AGO released a draft Community Engagement Plan on July 1, 2022, along with the mandated HEAL agencies. The agencies are coordinating listening sessions for 2023 to receive input and feedback on the central themes, best practices, methods, and principles that all agencies have in their community engagement plans. The AGO will also work with our Tribal Liaison to offer consultation to the Tribes per the requirements of the HEAL Act. After feedback, input, and consultation, the AGO will release an updated the Community Engagement Plan, tentatively in early 2024.
|Annually, beginning September 1, 2022||Annual Environmental Justice Council Report||Implementing agencies are required to provide an annual update to the Environmental Justice Council by September 1 of each year on the implementation of the HEAL Act.||
Completed for 2022 and 2023 – the AGO will release an Environmental Justice Report every year on September 1 on our website detailing our environmental justice and HEAL Act activities. This report will also be transmitted to the Environmental Justice Council every year on September 1.
|No deadline||Environmental Justice Principles||Implementing agencies are required to incorporate principles of environmental justice into agency activities, and ground HEAL implementation in principles of environmental justice.||Completed – the AGO’s Environmental Justice Principles can be found on our Environmental Justice Initiative webpage.|
|January 1, 2023||Environmental Justice Implementation Plan||Implementing agencies are required to create and adopt an environmental justice implementation plan. The implementation plan must describe how the agency plans to incorporate the principles of environmental justice into agency activities, including goals & actions to implement EJ and reduce environmental and health disparities, metrics to track and measure those goals & actions, facilitating equitable participation with community, strategies for compliance with various laws related to environmental justice, and timelines for HEAL implementation.||
DRAFT – the AGO released its draft Environmental Justice Implementation Plan on August 17, 2023. Per the requirements of the HEAL Act, the AGO will offer consultation to Tribes on the Environmental Justice Implementation Plan. The AGO will also solicit feedback and input from community, and will release an updated plan incorporating feedback in 2024.
|July 1, 2023||Publish Significant Agency Actions on Website & Notify Washington State Register of Significant Agency Actions||Implementing agencies are required to post which of their agency actions fall within the category of “significant agency action” to their website, and notify the WA State Register of those actions.||
Completed – the AGO has determined that agency request legislation is the only applicable significant agency action that the agency engages in.
|Environmental Justice Assessments on Significant Agency Actions||Implementing agencies are required to create an environmental justice assessment to conduct when undertaking significant agency actions.||
DRAFT – the AGO has determined that the agency request legislation is the only applicable significant agency action that the agency engages in and requires an environmental justice assessment (EJA). Tribes have requested consultation, and the AGO is committed to honoring these requests. The AGO’s EJA will not be finalized until consultation with Tribes and outreach with communities facing environmental injustices takes place and feedback is incorporated into the AGO’s EJA.
|Environmental Justice Principles and Considerations in Financial Actions||
Implementing agencies are required to incorporate environmental justice principles into decision processes for budget development, making expenditure, and granting or withholding environmental benefits.
Completed – the AGO has determined that the fiscal actions and activities outlined in the HEAL Act are not applicable to the agency due to the nature of the work that the AGO engages in.
|September 1, 2024||Annual Dashboard Report with Office of Financial Management||Implementing agencies are required to publish a dashboard report, in a uniform format, on the Office of Financial Management’s (OFM) website. The dashboard report must be updated annually and describe the progress of the agency’s implementation of EJ into agency strategic plans, obligations related to budgeting and funding, and EJ assessments.||Not yet started.|
|July 1, 2025||Define Additional Significant Agency Actions||Implementing agencies have the authority to define additional agency actions as significant agency actions. Agencies shall consider guidance from the Environmental Justice Council on what could be a significant agency action, and actions deemed as significant agency actions must be those that “may cause environmental harm or may affect the equitable distribution of environmental benefits to an overburdened community or a vulnerable population.”||IN PROGRESS – the AGO is evaluating which, if any, of our agency actions may rise to the statutory definition of “additional significant agency actions” under the HEAL Act.|
The Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act, codified at RCW 70A.02, requires implementing agencies to designate certain agency activities as significant agency actions to receive Environmental Justice Assessments. RCW 70A.02.010(12) defines significant agency actions as:
- The development and adoption of significant legislative rules as defined in RCW 34.05.328;
- The development and adoption of any new grant or loan program that a covered agency is explicitly authorized or required by statute to carry out;
- A capital project, grant, or loan award by a covered agency of at least $12,000,000 or a transportation project, grant, or loan by a covered agency of at least $15,000,000;
- The submission of agency request legislation to the office of the governor or the office of financial management for approval; and
- Any other agency actions deemed significant by a covered agency consistent with RCW 70A.02.060.
After careful consideration of the HEAL Act and the activities of the agency, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) determined that agency request legislation is the only applicable significant agency action at this time. As an agency, the AGO pursues litigation on behalf of the state, provides legal counsel to state agencies, boards, and commissions, and administers special projects as assigned by the legislature. The AGO does not have general rulemaking authority, does not administer legislatively mandated grant or loan programs, and does not take on capital or transportation projects.
Under RCW 70A.02.060(2)(a), additional significant agency actions (not listed in the RCW) must be defined by July 1, 2025, and must be actions that may cause environmental harm or may affect the equitable distribution of environmental benefits to an overburdened community or vulnerable population. The AGO will continue evaluating the agency’s activities to determine any additional significant agency actions under RCW 70A.02.060(2)(a), and will post them by July 1, 2025.
The Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act requires implementing agencies to, where practicable, incorporate environmental justice (EJ) principles into fiscal activities, including:
- Decision processes for budget development, making expenditures, and granting or withholding environmental benefits; and
- Equitable distribution of funding and expenditures related to programs that may cause environmental harms or provide environmental benefits towards overburdened communities and vulnerable populations.
The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) determined that the agency does not have direct expenditures on programs that may cause environmental benefits or harms. However, in an effort to operate with the spirit of the HEAL Act, AGO EJ Policy staff will work with the AGO’s Financial Services Division to identify opportunities to incorporate EJ principles and considerations into AGO budget development, requests, and expenditures.
The Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act, codified at RCW 70A.02, requires implementing agencies to complete Environmental Justice Assessments (EJA) on significant agency actions. Of the significant agency actions defined at RCW 70A.02.010(12), the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) determined that the only applicable significant agency action is agency request legislation. Tribes have requested consultation, and the AGO is committed to honoring these requests. The AGO’s EJA will not be finalized until consultation with Tribes and outreach with communities facing environmental injustices takes place and feedback is incorporated into the AGO’s EJA.