Harrisburg, PA — In response to Governor Wolf’s Executive Order and codifying legislation from the PA House Black Caucus,  the PA Climate Equity Table released the following statement: 

Governor Wolf’s Executive Order codifies the Office of Environmental Justice and Environmental Justice Advisory Board, making it a standing part of the Department of Environmental Protection. It will order the Office of Environmental Justice and Environmental Justice Advisory Board to develop a comprehensive statewide definition of Environmental Justice and develop a 5-year plan to advance environmental justice in Pennsylvania. 

“Pennsylvania is one of the most polluted states in the nation. By establishing an office of Environmental Justice, Pennsylvania is taking bold steps to combat climate change. And, including the cumulative impact consideration will mean we have more tools at our disposal to continue to create opportunities for a more equitable and healthy future,” said Nitzi Salinas, CASA member from York, PA.

The Executive Order also establishes the creation of the Environmental Justice Interagency Council that will consist of the Secretaries of Department of Conservation of Natural Resources, Department of Education, Department of Agriculture, Department of Health, Department of Transportation, Department of Community and Economic Development, and other cabinet members determined by the Governor. The Environmental Justice Interagency Council is tasked with considering environmental justice in all decision-making.

The PA House Black Caucus is introducing legislation to institutionalize the executive order from the Governor’s office. The Black Caucus also plans to introduce legislation that will require industry 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 DEP will 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. Thus, there will be a more transparent and open process before certain facilities such as landfills and sewage plants are built or expanded within environmental justice areas. 


About The PA Climate Equity Table:  The Equity Table seeks to unite urban, rural, and suburban voices for racial, economic, and climate justice by building: community; electoral power; shared racial and environmental justice analysis; and policy change.  We seek a just and equitable transition from our extractive economy to an economy that is regenerative, renewable, and just. The Equity Table members include: CASA, Center for Coalfield Justice, Make the Road PA, PA Stands Up, POWER-Interfaith, Pittsburgh United, Philly Thrive, and One PA.

About CASA: With over 122,000 lifetime immigrant and working class members across 46 US states, CASA is a member-based Latino and immigrant organization. Visit us at www.wearecasa.org and follow us on Twitter at @CASAforall.