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Oregon Department of Environmental Quality


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Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice rallyDEQ is committed to the principles of environmental justice and to ensuring that the agency’s actions – including permitting, cleanup, policy and planning, outreach and education, and compliance and enforcement – address the interests of Oregon communities, especially minority, low-income and other traditionally underrepresented communities, as much as state and federal laws allow.

Ensuring Environmental Justice

DEQ adopted an Environmental Justice policy in 1997 to guide the agency’s work, including principles for making environmental equity inherent in the way DEQ does business. Some recent DEQ actions to ensure environmental justice include:

  • red diesel truckWorking with local environmental justice groups and others to reduce diesel emissions and improve air quality to protect those most at risk from air pollution.
  • Building stronger relationships with tribal nations to understand the impact of DEQ's actions on tribal communities and lands.
  • Working with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, other tribal nations and the federal Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen protections for people who eat fish from Oregon waters by increasing the "fish consumption rate" in state water quality standards.
  • articipating in a collaborative partnership to improve the environmental health of nail salon workers and customers, many of whom are Vietnamese and African American, through education and outreach.
  • leaning up contaminated lands around the state that pose risks to people’s health, many of which exist in low-income and minority communities.
  • eveloping partnerships with the Oregon Public Health Division, especially to provide information about environmental health to the people who might not be familiar with DEQ’s work.
  • reating opportunities for citizens to share their comments and concerns directly with the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission when they hold meetings around the state.

Native Americans at pow-wowFor more examples of environmental justice at DEQ, see the summary of environmental justice activities at DEQ (PDF). Compiled in November 2007, this summary provides “stories from the field” about DEQ’s work to address environmental justice issues statewide.

To augment these efforts, DEQ is now:

  • Designating an Environmental Justice Coordinator and citizen advocate to help ensure the meaningful involvement of all potentially affected communities in DEQ’s work and the protection of their interests in agency decisions.
  • Working to enhance public participation in the agency’s actions and ensure the involvement of people who may be affected, as directed by Senate Bill 420 passed by the 2007 Legislature.

In addition, some of our goals include:

  • Increasing outreach to Spanish-speaking communities in the Portland-Metro area with recommendations from a 2006 DEQ study that assessed the ways in which Latino communities receive and perceive environmental information.
  • Providing multi-lingual fact sheets and translation services to non-English speaking communities, including DEQ programs for vehicle inspection, dry cleaners, open burning, asbestos and emergency response.
  • Providing training for DEQ employees to raise awareness about environmental justice issues and what each employee can do to help ensure environmental equity in DEQ’s work.
  • Building a more diverse workforce within DEQ to ensure better sensitivity to Oregon’s diverse communities.


The Environmental Protection Agency has a mapping tool, EJView, that allows users to create maps and generate detailed reports based on the geographic areas and data sets they choose.  The tool can be found at the EJView website.

Contact Us

If you have information to share about how DEQ’s actions and decisions affect Oregon communities, or if you have questions or concerns related to environmental justice issues, please contact DEQ’s Environmental Justice Coordinator and citizen advocate, Stephanie Caldera. Stephanie can be reached via e-mail or by phone at 503-229-5301.


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Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 700 NE Multnomah Street, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97232
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service: 1-800-735-2900  FAX: 503-229-6124

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is a regulatory agency authorized to protect Oregon's environment by
the State of Oregon and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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