A diverse 16-member board will now advise the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) on environmental justice issues, according to a news release.
This is a another step in the agency's recent efforts to "achieve equitable treatment and engagement of all people" while addressing pollution in Minnesota.
The MPCA has worked with other organizations, agencies and businesses for decades "to significantly reduce air and water pollution and clean up contaminated sites" around the state. Last year, they established an Environmental Justice Framework. The framework acknowledges that "not all Minnesotans have benefitted in the same way" from their practices over the years.
It gives examples such as the difference in pollution exposure for low-income Minnesotans and people of color compared to middle and upper income white Minnesotans. The elderly, children, poor and people of color are more vulnerable when it comes to the effects of pollution – including disease and death – because of "underlying health disparities," according to the framework.
The new advisory board will advise the MPCA on ways to incorporate the framework into its practices, says the news release.
“It's easy to talk about remedying the disproportionate impacts of past pollution and preventing future harm, but much more difficult to put those words into action,” Commissioner John Linc Stine said in the release. “This advisory group is an important step in making sure that equity is addressed in our work."
Several of the members have experience working with immigrants or indigenous people or as environmental activists. A full list of the members is available here. The board will begin meeting in October.