Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HB2521
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Full Text of HB2521  103rd General Assembly




State of Illinois
2023 and 2024


Introduced 2/15/2023, by Rep. Sonya M. Harper


New Act

    Creates the Environmental Justice Act. Creates the Illinois Environmental Justice Advisory Council to provide independent advice and recommendations to the Governor, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other State agencies about broad, cross-cutting issues related to environmental justice and on policies, practices, and specific actions. Requires the Agency to: (1) develop and implement a strategy prioritizing enforcement in environmental justice populations; (2) compile an annual report detailing the number and types of enforcement actions in environmental justice populations; (3) establish and maintain a supplemental environmental project bank with specified requirements; (4) publish a progress report on environmental justice no less often than every 5 years; and (5) work with the Department of Public Health to establish health risk assessment guidelines and develop an online mapping that identifies specified information. Contains requirements for environmental impact reports. Requires the Director of the Agency to appoint a Director of Environmental Justice within the Agency to perform specified duties. Provides that State agencies shall (1) designate an environmental justice coordinator for each State agency to perform specified actions and (2) develop a specific policy or strategy to promote environmental justice. Establishes the Interagency Environmental Justice Working Group to maximize State resources, research, and technical assistance to further the purposes of the Act and of environmental justice in the State. Provides that environmental justice coordinators shall serve as their State agency's representative to the Interagency Environmental Working Group. Contains other provisions.

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HB2521LRB103 25806 CPF 52157 b

1    AN ACT concerning safety.
2    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3represented in the General Assembly:
4    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
5Environmental Justice Act.
6    Section 5. Purpose. This Act is intended to:
7        (1) promote environmental justice, eliminate
8    disparities with respect to exposure to environmental
9    toxins, and ensure access to environmental benefits within
10    the State; and
11        (2) protect the people in their right to the
12    conservation, development, and utilization of
13    agricultural, mineral, forest, water, air, and other
14    natural resources.
15    Section 10. Definitions. In this Act:
16    "Advisory Council" means the Illinois Environmental
17Justice Advisory Council.
18    "Agency" means the Environmental Protection Agency.
19    "Environmental justice" means the right to be protected
20from environmental pollution and to live in and enjoy a clean
21and healthful environment regardless of race, income, national
22origin, or English language proficiency. "Environmental



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1justice" includes the equal protection and meaningful
2involvement of all people with respect to the development,
3implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, rules,
4regulations, and policies and the equitable distribution of
5environmental benefits.
6    "Environmental benefit" means funding, open space,
7enforcement, technical assistance, training, or other
8beneficial environmental resources disbursed by a State
10    "Environmental justice population" means a neighborhood in
11which: the annual median household income is equal to or less
12than 65% of the statewide median; minorities comprise 25% or
13more of the population; or 25% or more of households lack
14English language proficiency. Where a neighborhood does not
15meet any of those criteria, but a geographic portion of that
16neighborhood meets at least one of those criteria, the Agency
17may designate that geographic portion as an environmental
18justice population upon petition of at least 10 residents of
19that geographic portion.
20    "Equal protection" means that no group of people, because
21of race, ethnicity, class, gender, or disability bears an
22unfair share of environmental pollution from industrial,
23commercial, State, or municipal operations or has limited
24access to natural resources, including waterfronts, parks and
25open space, and water resources.
26    "IEPA" means the Environmental Protection Act.



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1    "Lacking English language proficiency" means a situation
2in which a household, according to federal census forms, does
3not have an adult proficient in English.
4    "Neighborhood" means a census block group as defined by
5the U.S. Census Bureau, but not including people who live in
6college dormitories or people under formally authorized
7supervised care or custody, such as federal or State prisons.
8    "Supplemental environmental project" means an
9environmentally beneficial project, the implementation of
10which primarily benefits public health, safety, and welfare
11and the environment.
12    "Toxics Release Inventory Program" means the Toxics
13Release Inventory and Toxics Release Inventory Program of the
14United States Environmental Protection Agency.
15    "TRI facility" means any industrial or commercial facility
16subject to the rules, regulations, policies, or reporting
17requirements of the Toxics Release Inventory Program or
18comparable laws or rules of the State for the management and
19control of pollutants or toxins that pose a significant risk
20to public health or the environment.
21    Section 15. Illinois Environmental Justice Advisory
23    (a) The Illinois Environmental Justice Advisory Council is
24created. By no later than 180 days after the effective date of
25this Act, the Agency shall convene the Advisory Council. The



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1Advisory Council shall provide independent advice and
2recommendations to the Governor, the Agency, and other State
3agencies about broad, cross-cutting issues related to
4environmental justice and policies, practices, and specific
5actions that the State should implement to ensure that the
6objectives of this Act are accomplished.
7    (b) The Advisory Council shall consist of at least 9, but
8not more than 15, persons, including:
9        (1) a chair designated by the Advisory Council and
10    approved by the Governor;
11        (2) no less than 2 persons appointed by the President
12    of the Senate;
13        (3) no less than 2 persons appointed by the Speaker of
14    the House of Representatives; and
15        (4) the remainder appointed by the Governor.
16    The Advisory Council shall be comprised of environmental
17justice stakeholders, including: scientific or other experts
18in environmental or public health matters holding academic
19positions in colleges, universities, or other research
20institutions and who work regularly in, or conduct substantial
21research regarding, environmental justice concerns;
22representatives of the environmental nonprofit sector; and
23representatives of conservation commissions or boards of
24health; residents or elected officials of environmental
25justice populations.
26    No fewer than 4 of the persons appointed to the Advisory



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1Council shall be residents of environmental justice
2populations within the State.
3    (c) A majority of the members of the Advisory Council
4shall be deemed a quorum. The Advisory Council shall establish
5rules for conducting its activities and may amend the rules as
6it deems reasonable, subject to the Governor's approval and
7consistent with the provisions and purposes of this Act.
8    (d) The Advisory Council shall meet at such times and
9places as determined by the Advisory Council and its chair and
10shall submit an initial report giving advice and
11recommendations to the Governor within 6 months following the
12appointment of the Council's members. Thereafter the Advisory
13Council shall meet at least semi-annually and submit
14supplemental reports giving advice and recommendations to the
15Governor and the Agency no less often than once per year.
16    (e) The Advisory Council may hold public meetings at its
17discretion or at the request of the Governor or the Agency for
18the purpose of fact-finding, receiving public comments, or
19conducting inquiries concerning environmental justice. The
20Advisory Council shall prepare for public review and include
21in its reports a summary of the comments and recommendations
22made at the public meetings.
23    (f) The Office of the Governor and the Agency shall
24provide the Advisory Council with staffing and administrative
25support sufficient to accomplish the goals set out in
26subsection (a).



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1    Section 20. Environmental justice population enforcement
3    (a) By no later than 180 days after the effective date of
4this Act, the Agency shall develop and implement a strategy
5prioritizing environmental enforcement in environmental
6justice populations. The Agency shall compile an annual
7report, due at the end of each calendar year, detailing the
8number and types of enforcement actions in environmental
9justice populations.
10    (b) The strategy shall also address the following:
11        (1) Ensuring equal compliance and enforcement for
12    facilities subject to environmental regulatory programs or
13    permitting requirements and located in or near
14    environmental justice populations.
15        (2) Establishing a process for reviewing which IEPA
16    thresholds apply for enhanced public participation and
17    substantive review.
18        (3) Ensuring brownfield remediation in or near
19    environmental justice populations.
20        (4) Creating an online environmental justice
21    repository of information about the State's environmental
22    justice initiatives for the general public and project
23    proponents.
24    Section 25. Supplemental environmental project bank. The



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1Agency shall establish and maintain a supplemental
2environmental project bank. The supplemental environmental
3project bank shall maintain an inventory of environmentally
4beneficial projects in communities with environmental justice
5populations that may be funded by violators in addition to
6paying penalties associated with the settlement of enforcement
7actions. Supplemental environmental project banks shall
8conform to any Agency policies regarding supplemental
9environmental projects. The Agency shall establish and
10maintain a website portal where the public and potential
11supplemental environmental project bank recipients may submit
12potential supplemental environmental project bank projects to
13be considered for future settlements.
14    Section 30. Environmental justice progress report.
15    (a) The Agency shall, in consultation with other State
16agencies, and no less often than every 5 years, publish a
17progress report on environmental justice:
18        (1) incorporating the recommendations of the Advisory
19    Council, as appropriate;
20        (2) incorporating enforcement and supplemental
21    environmental project bank activities undertaken;
22        (3) reporting metrics on reduction of pollution in
23    environmental justice populations; and
24        (4) outlining further policy actions.
25    (b) The report shall be filed with the clerk of the House



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1of Representatives, the clerk of the Senate, the chair of the
2Senate Environment and Conservation Committee, the chair of
3the House of Representatives Energy and Environment Committee,
4and the chair of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities
6    Section 35. Health risk assessment guidelines.
7    (a) The Agency shall work with the Department of Public
8Health to establish health risk assessment guidelines using
9the best available science and established health risk
10assessment parameters and shall develop an online mapping tool
11that is accessible to the public and identifies:
12        (1) environmental justice populations by census tract;
13        (2) sources of pollution according to the health risk
14    assessment guidelines in each environmental justice census
15    tract; and
16        (3) harmful effects to human health or to ecological
17    systems resulting from exposure to each pollution source.
18    (b) The Department of Public Health shall prioritize
19census tracts with the worst health risk outcomes and develop
20strategies for reducing public health threats.
21    Section 40. Environmental impact reports; enhanced public
23    (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if a
24person or entity submits an environmental impact report to the



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1Agency, the environmental impact report shall include an
2enhanced analysis of impacts and mitigation for any project
3located in or within one mile of an environmental justice
4population or that is within 5 miles of an environmental
5justice population for a project that exceeds applicable
6thresholds for air under IEPA.
7    (b) An enhanced analysis under subsection (a) shall
8include, at a minimum:
9        (1) analysis of multiple air impacts;
10        (2) data on baseline public health conditions within
11    the affected environmental justice population;
12        (3) analysis of technological, site planning, and
13    operational alternatives to reduce or eliminate impacts;
14    and
15        (4) proposed on-site and off-site mitigation measures
16    to reduce multiple impacts, increase environmental
17    benefits, and further environmental justice and equal
18    protection for the affected environmental justice
19    population.
20    (c) In cases where the proposed project has the potential
21to impact an environmental justice population lacking English
22language proficiency, the environmental impact report shall be
23in English and in any other language spoken by the
24environmental justice population. The environmental impact
25report shall describe the proposed facility and its location,
26the range of potential environmental and health impacts of



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1each pollutant, the application and review process, and a
2contact person, with phone number and address, from whom
3information will be available as the application proceeds.
4    (d) There shall be enhanced public participation for any
5project located in or within one mile of an environmental
6justice population or within 5 miles of an environmental
7justice population for a project that exceeds applicable
8thresholds for air under IEPA. Enhanced public participation
9may include use of alternative media such as community and
10ethnic newspapers and other media, use of alternative
11information repositories, and translation of materials or
12interpretation services prior to and during public meetings
13where a significant portion of the relevant environmental
14justice population uses a primary language other than English
15in their home. When scheduling public meetings, the Agency
16shall recommend and may require that project proponents
17consider the time of the meeting, availability of public
18transportation, and whether the locations are child-friendly
19and culturally appropriate. To the extent feasible, meetings
20should be held in places that community members already
21routinely use and feel comfortable visiting. The Agency shall
22recommend that project proponents consider whether outreach
23efforts should include an educational component to ensure that
24community members have the information necessary to evaluate a
25project's potential impacts.



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1    Section 45. TRI facilities.
2    (a) By no later than 30 days after the effective date of
3this Act, the Agency shall direct each department, board, or
4other State agency or program with jurisdiction over the
5permitting of any TRI facility to issue recommendations for
6ways to substantially decrease the further siting or expansion
7of TRI facilities within environmental justice populations.
8    (b) By no later than 180 days after the effective date of
9this Act, the Agency shall initiate a rulemaking process that
10shall establish a cap on the total number of TRI facilities
11that may be sited or expanded within any environmental justice
12population. The rulemaking process shall prioritize and give
13substantial weight to:
14        (1) achieving a substantial reduction in the risk of
15    the exposure of residents of the environmental justice
16    population to toxins listed in the Toxics Release
17    Inventory Program; and
18        (2) providing and preserving the access of the
19    residents of the environmental justice population to a
20    clean and healthful environment regardless of race,
21    income, national origin, or English language proficiency.
22    Section 50. Director of Environmental Justice. By no later
23than 30 days after the effective date of this Act, the Director
24of the Agency shall appoint a Director of Environmental
25Justice within the Agency. The Director of Environmental



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1Justice shall have such duties and authority as the Director
2of the Agency deems reasonable to ensure that the purposes of
3this Act are carried out. The Director of Environmental
4Justice shall liaise with the Advisory Council and other State
5agencies and may have any other duties that the Director of the
6Agency deems necessary to secure environmental justice. The
7Director of the Agency shall not permit the position of
8Director of Environmental Justice to be vacant for more than
960 days.
10    Section 55. Environmental justice coordinators; policies
11or strategies.
12    (a) By no later than 30 days after the effective date of
13this Act, each State agency, other than the Environmental
14Protection Agency, shall designate an environmental justice
15coordinator for the State agency. The environmental justice
16coordinator shall be the main point of contact regarding
17environmental justice matters within that State agency, shall
18liaise with the Director of Environmental Justice within the
19Environmental Protection Agency, and shall be responsible for
20developing and implementing the environmental justice policy
21or strategy of that State agency created under this Act or any
22other law, rule, regulation, or order.
23    (b) By no later than 180 days after the effective date of
24this Act, and except where already provided for elsewhere in
25this Act, each State agency shall develop a specific policy or



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1strategy to promote environmental justice in ways that are
2tailored to the specific authority, mission, and programs
3under its jurisdiction. The policies or strategies shall be
4reviewed every 5 years and updated as needed. Policies or
5strategies shall include, but are not limited to:
6        (1) identification of permitting or other applicable
7    regulatory authority over development projects, brownfield
8    remediation, industrial operations, and commercial
9    facilities that may impact environmental justice
10    populations and a description of any mechanism to ensure
11    that environmental justice populations are protected in
12    the review process;
13        (2) identification of economic development
14    opportunities, environmental benefits, and other
15    discretionary funding programs that consider, or
16    appropriately should consider, the needs of an
17    environmental justice population in the award process; and
18        (3) an enhanced public participation plan for
19    environmental justice populations potentially affected by
20    development projects, brownfield remediation, industrial
21    operations, and commercial facilities that focuses the
22    State agency's resources on outreach activities that
23    enhance public participation opportunities in
24    environmental justice populations, including a plan for
25    communicating in multiple languages and scheduling public
26    meetings at locations and times convenient for



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1    environmental justice population stakeholders.
2    Section 60. Interagency Environmental Justice Working
4    (a) The Interagency Environmental Justice Working Group is
5established to maximize State resources, research, and
6technical assistance to further the purposes of this Act and
7of environmental justice in the State.
8    (b) An environmental justice coordinator designated under
9subsection (a) of Section 55 shall serves as his or her State
10agency's representative to the Interagency Environmental
11Working Group. The Director of Environmental Justice shall
12convene meetings of the Interagency Environmental Justice
13Working Group and serve as it chair. By no later than 90 days
14after the effective date of this Act, the Interagency
15Environmental Justice Working Group shall hold at least one
16meeting and develop a schedule for subsequent meetings, which
17shall take place no less than once a year.