Social Equity and the Environment

Many of Oregon’s low-income neighborhoods and communities of color face greater environmental hazards, have less access to environmental benefits, and have the fewest resources to address these challenges. Because these communities endure many inequities, they are uniquely vulnerable to health harm from environmental factors.

Oregon’s decision-makers and others who benefit from power and privilege—including Oregon Environmental Council—have a responsibility to work towards greater social equity in our state. OEC has adopted an “equity lens” to ensure that we consider equity as we develop project and policy concepts.

OEC is committed to working with under-represented and over-burdened communities to understand challenges, develop solutions, and create space at the decision-making table. Projects today include:

  • Engaging neighborhoods vulnerable to diesel pollution in a community-based science approach to understanding the problem and developing local solutions. Our pilot is in the Lents neighborhood of Portland with Rose CDC and Green Lents.
  • Working with Coalition of Communities of Color, APANO and Verde to develop climate justice principles that help policymakers evaluate the equity implications of different climate pollution pricing programs.
  • In alliance with active transportation partners, including OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, seeking funding for a program to increase youth access to transit in order to remove barriers to education, civic engagement and youth employment.
  • Building support for increased funding for transit operations around the state to better serve the needs of the roughly 25% of Oregonians who cannot drive due to age, disability or financial circumstances.
  • Promoting legislation to protect Oregonians from contaminated well water, a serious issue for many rural Oregonians, including those who live in mobile home parks, migrant worker housing, and more.
  • Serving on the Governor’s Environmental Justice Task Force.
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Diesel and Social Justice

Excerpt from OEC’s Report, The Dirt on Diesel, May 2016. A 2011 study of Portland air toxics, using models and data from ve air monitors placed in 2005, found that the entire Portland metro area experiences diesel pollution above the state’s health b
May 17, 2017, 9:32 pm


OEC and partners call on ODOT to consider climate and equity

July 14, 2021 Oregon Transportation Commission 355 Capitol Street, NE MS 11 Salem, Oregon 97301   Dear Chair Van Brocklin and members of the Oregon Transportation Commission: Our organizations write this letter as communities around the state are reporting dozens of deaths in the wake of a record-breaking heatwave while preparing for another summer and fall of destructive wildfires. Climate change is already bringing enormous human suffering to
July 15, 2021, 3:57 pm


Sign on fence post reading, "Irrigated with recycled water".

A Natural Vision for Water Part 3: Advancing Health and Environmental Justice

By Lynny Brown, Health & Outdoors Partner for Willamette Partnership and co-author of the Natural Infrastructure in Oregon report. As an environmental public health professional, Lynny advocates for a
May 25, 2021, 11:40 pm


How OEC Uses Our Equity Lens to Inform Our Work

Oregon Environmental Council started our intentional diversity, equity, and inclusion work in 2012. We started this journey by listening and acknowledging that the environmental movement has caused harm and not been as inclusive as it needs to be. In saying this, we want to acknowledge the diverse voices in the movement and not erase their accomplishments. There have always been incredible BIPOC leaders doing environmental and environmental justice work, and we are grateful for
December 28, 2020, 9:05 am


Advancing Equity in Transportation Systems

October 5, 2020, 7:19 pm


Oregon Lawmakers Take Action Against White House Attacks on Environmental Policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 15, 2019 PORTLAND, OR – The Environmental Protection Act (HB 2250) has passed the Senate and is headed to the desk of Gov. Kate Brown. HB
May 15, 2019, 8:24 am


Can Poetry Save Us from Our Global Environmental Crisis?

I have to admit that, after decades of work as an environmental advocate, I still find it slightly awkward to tell people that my educational training is in fine arts. But if you think about it for a moment, it makes sense. Environmental solutions, just like poetry, require imagination, vision and passion. I’d bet that, if you take a close look at the staff at our nation’s most effective environmental groups, you’d find not only scientists and
November 23, 2016, 6:30 pm


A migrant’s story of environmental justice

Guest blog by Giselle Lopez Ixta Every morning feels too painful to wake up. I’m scared to hear about another death, another racist incident, another deportation, a family separation, and of politics. I am a migrant queer xicana. I was born in Apatzingan, Michoacán, Mexico. When I was five years old, I arrived in Woodburn where my parents had been farmworkers. When I was ten years old, I received my citizenship, even as my mother was deported for ten years. In summer 20
October 19, 2016, 1:30 pm


Why anti-immigrant is anti-environment

Update July 2016: All of the anti-immigrant measures
April 19, 2016, 12:10 am


Recap: Messages from Oregon’s Environmental Justice and Equity Leaders

By Rob Nathan, Director of Digital Engagement, NW Earth Institute,     CoChair for
November 21, 2015, 6:21 pm


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