Community, Equity & Access
Our vision is for everyone, everywhere to breathe clean, healthy air all the time, regardless of who they are or where they live. In addition to reducing air pollution overall, we also focus on equity, so nobody is more at risk because of where they live or their socioeconomic status.
Environmental justice is the “fair distribution of environmental benefits, risks and burdens.” In our work, it means everybody shares the same air quality benefits and burdens. Many communities in our jurisdiction face greater risks of exposure to air pollution than others, for many reasons including: topography, weather patterns, geography, and socio-economic status.
We define “highly impacted communities” as geographic locations characterized by degraded air quality, whose residents face economic or historic barriers to participation in clean air decisions and solutions. For example, a neighborhood with a high population of people of color located near a major roadway would meet this definition. A predominantly low-income neighborhood with significant wood-burning activity would also be considered highly impacted.
Equity refers to “the quality, state, or idea of being just, fair, and impartial.” When it comes to air pollution, some populations in our region are more affected than others, often because of their socioeconomic situations. Our approach towards equity in clean air aims to make sure everyone, everywhere, has clean, healthy air to breathe. Our goal is to rebalance pollution so it is fair and no community has more risk than another.
Our vision is for everyone, everywhere to breathe clean, healthy air all the time – regardless of who they are or where they live. In addition to reducing air pollution overall, we also focus on equity, so nobody is more at risk because of where they live or their socioeconomic status.
To be relevant and serve all people in our four counties, we reach out and listen to community concerns and make room to work with issues new to us. Our commitment to equity and environmental justice means taking the time to build and invest in relationships with a range of constituents, from partner institutions to academic and grassroots organizations.
No community in our region should bear disproportionate burdens and exposure from air pollution. In our region, the communities that bear the highest impact of air pollution also tend to be those with other socio-economic challenges. For example, lower income communities and communities of color face higher exposure to diesel exhaust, which is a prime contributor of fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Our strategies prioritize air pollution reductions for communities that historically experience challenges to economic opportunity and decision-making access. We also consider cumulative air quality risks in affected communities.
And although we are a public service agency and not a corporate entity, we support triple bottom line strategies that support communities, the environment, and our economy.
Partnerships are critical to the success of clean air strategies and we work to collaborate on a number of levels. In terms of advancing the work of equity, we recognize the value of community based partners and organizations. They have done the hard work of establishing relationships with residents, building credibility, and protecting community interests and concerns. We want to add value in a way that is relevant and meaningful.
What does this look like? We’re exploring creative ways to expand our ability to meet the everyday needs of our constituents:
- For the past two years, we have worked with Casa Latina and the Mexican Consulate to provide engaging workshops with individuals who may be exposed to asbestos hazards in their work environments.
- We are also working with our neighbors in South Park and Georgetown to explore creative mitigation measures that range from individual and residential remedies to broader policy recommendations.