Environmental Justice

Empowering Communities | Protecting Our Environment | Connecting People

Environmental Justice image of the earth

"Environmental Justice (EJ)" means the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, English language proficiency, or income with respect to access to the state’s natural resources and the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.

All Rhode Island residents, regardless of income, race, ethnicity, or national origin, have a right to live in a clean and healthy environment. DEM strongly believes that no community should be burdened with adverse environmental and public health consequences. As a result of Rhode Island’s industrial history and heritage, many communities in the state are disproportionately impacted by environmental and public health risks. Many of Rhode Island’s EJ focus areas are particularly afflicted by pollution from numerous industrial, commercial, and governmental facilities located in their neighborhoods. Additionally, these same communities often lack opportunities to access the states open spaces to recreate and enjoy nature. Residents in many of these overburdened communities have also suffered from an increase in adverse health effects, such as asthma, cancer, and increased exposure to hazardous substances, among other issues. It is in the interest of the State and its people to limit and eliminate harmful pollutants which are often disproportionately found in and around facilities located near overburdened communities and to provide these communities equal opportunity to recreate and enjoy in the state’s natural places, which also has known health benefits.

RIDEM Environmental Justice Policy

DEM has developed a policy to guide all programs within the Department. It is intended be a dynamic document evolving based on feedback from local community groups, businesses, elected officials, faith communities, and Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities of Rhode Island. This policy represents DEM’s ongoing commitment and dedication to the State of Rhode Island and the people who live within its communities who are often disproportionately impacted by environmental issues and lack of access to natural resource opportunities.

Read the Policy (draft May 2022)

Send us your feedback at DEM.EJ@dem.ri.gov

We invite the public to provide feedback and interact with us as we continue to implement policies and measures to ensure consistent and fair consideration of community issues and concerns related to our environment in our programs and initiatives. Send us your feedback at DEM.EJ@dem.ri.gov

    Initiatives

    Community Scale Air Toxics Monitoring Project

    Aerial Map of the Port of Providence

    Community Scale Air Toxics Monitoring Project – Port of Providence and Surrounding Communities Air quality surrounding the Port of Providence is impacted by air pollution from diesel trucks, marine vessels, oil and gas storage and distribution, asphalt and cement processing, metals recycling, natural gas and utility service, and large heating plants.

    Additionally, Interstate Route 95 (I-95) passes through Providence neighborhoods with among the highest poverty and childhood asthma rates in the State. The goal of this Community-Scale Air Toxics monitoring project is to characterize air toxic emissions near the Port of Providence and its potential impacts on the people living and working in the area.

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    Considering EJ Issues in the Redevelopment of Brownfields

    Children running and enjoying the spray park on a sunny day

    Considering Environmental Justice in the Review of Investigation and Remediation of Contaminated Properties Redevelopment of Brownfields - which are vestiges of Rhode Island's industrial heritage and number in the thousands across the state - may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of environmental contamination. Many of the impacted sites are located in the urban centers of the State. In many cases, low income and minority populations live in the communities around the sites. These populations have been subject to many historical inequities. Addressing these inequities and providing a fair, effective process for future involvement in site remediation projects is a main premise of environmental justice.

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    Accessibility in Rhode Island State Parks

    Adaptive cycling Blackstone bikeway

    DEM's Division of Parks and Recreation has an ongoing program of renovating facilities to make them accessible to and usable by persons with physical disabilities. It is our aim to make each state park and beach location as barrier-free as possible for the convenience of those with limited mobility.

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    Interactive Map

    To find out if a property is located in an Environmental Justice area, please type the address in the search bar below.