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Office of Environmental Equity

The Office of Environmental Equity manages three programs: Environmental Justice, Public Participation, and Tribal Affairs. We support meaningful community engagement, promote environmental justice and equity considerations in decision-making, and conduct government-to-government consultation with tribes. By integrating these three programs throughout DTSC, we strive to be part of achieving a healthy California for all.

Approach

An environmental equity approach recognizes disparities in the distribution of environmental benefits and burdens within and across communities, and seeks to meet individual and community needs. In order to promote environmental justice, we must challenge existing disparities and the decision-making processes that keep historic injustices and present-day barriers in place. As a broader concept, an equity approach involves “leveling the playing field” and working to correct and address systemic barriers.

Organization

The Office of Environmental Equity implements programs across multiple reporting units and locations. Managers and staff within the office are based in DTSC’s Sacramento-Headquarters, Sacramento-Cal Center, Berkeley, Commerce, Cypress, and Chatsworth offices. A total of five reporting units perform a combination of Environmental Justice, Public Participation, and Tribal Affairs related activities. All staff provide consulting services to DTSC’s internal programs on their areas of expertise. Regional office staff incorporate public participation activities in project-specific and policy work. Staff in headquarters and across the regions are responsible for coordinating workgroups, research, trainings, and policies.

The Deputy Director provides leadership for the Office of Environmental Equity programs and serves as DTSC’s Tribal Liaison. This position was originally established as Assistant Director for Environmental Justice in 2015, and became combined with the duties of Deputy Director of Public Participation in 2019.

History

DTSC first developed public participation policies and procedures in 1988 as part of its Office of External Affairs. For many years, community leaders called for State leadership to better address pollution burdens in environmental justice communities. In 2015, DTSC developed an Assistant Director for Environmental Justice position in an effort to establish more transparency, and to provide information and assistance to communities where hazardous materials are located. In 2016, an Office of Environmental Justice and Tribal Affairs was established to promote environmental justice and equity considerations, work more collaboratively with communities, and conduct tribal consultation across DTSC’s activities. In 2017, an Office of Public Participation was established as a separate reporting structure from the Office of External Affairs to better distinguish the community engagement focus of public participation practices. In 2019, leadership of both new offices became aligned under a Deputy Director, forming an Office of Environmental Equity with responsibility over three programs: Environmental Justice, Public Participation, and Tribal Affairs.

Learn more about each program: