Environmental Justice & Democracy
Nationally and in Vermont, due to structural racism, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color have had less access to land, homes, and equity; have disproportionately borne the impacts of pollution, and have far too often been left out of policy decisions that impact their lives. Environmental policy must work to rectify the structural racism that has created these disparities, while proactively supporting people who have been historically marginalized. This work also needs to listen to, and follow the lead of, recommendations coming from the Vermont Native American Commission and Abenaki tribal leadership. Multiple bills are currently being developed by and with BIPOC experts – including through the work of Vermont Renews, the Vermont Releaf Collective, REJOICE, and others — to advance environmental justice and equity, including the BIPOC Land Access and Opportunity Act and the Environmental Justice Act legislation, and we urge the Legislature to take them up and move them forward. We also support increased funding and staffing for the Office of Racial Equity to expand their work to identify and address systemic racial disparities in state government. We are committed to embedding these values in all of our work and will center the priorities identified by these constituencies.
We also believe the long-term health of our planet is inextricably linked with the health of our democracy. At the federal level, Supreme Court decisions have opened the floodgates of political contributions from wealthy special interests and gutted key voter protections. Fortunately, Vermont has worked hard to increase access to the ballot box via policies like same-day voter registration and automatic voter registration. Due to the pandemic, the state mailed all active registered voters their ballot for the November elections — and saw record-breaking turnout. With its proven success at increasing voter participation, we believe this practice should be made permanent for all general elections in Vermont.
2021 Legislative Priorities:
- Increase funding and staffing for the Office of Racial Equity. STATUS: Funding increased!
- Make universal vote-by-mail permanent for all general elections, with a particular focus on working to ensure voting access for historically marginalized communities. STATUS: Enacted!