Author – Samantha Fairbanks
The Agriculture Law Education Initiative’s (ALEI) 2022 Agriculture and Environmental Law Conference will feature a panel discussing environmental justice (EJ) in Maryland. Specifically, the panel will explore how a new EJ screening tool and recent changes to state law will impact equity. This panel features Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Assistant Secretary Devon Dodson alongside student attorneys from the Maryland Carey Law Environmental Law Clinic. The panel will focus on how the use of the new EJ screening tool and the resulting EJ score will influence the way MDE makes permitting decisions.
In 2022, the Maryland General Assembly passed House Bill 1200, which requires applicants to conduct an EJ screening for certain permits issued by MDE. The EJ screening tool accounts for three socioeconomic indicators by identifying areas with (1) minority populations of 50% or more; (2) a poverty rate of 25% or more; and (3) 15% or more residents with limited English proficiency. According to Dodson, the EJ screening tool will assist MDE in reducing existing environmental inequities and prevent the creation of new injustices in overburdened communities.
As part of his role at MDE, Dodson serves as MDE’s EJ officer. Dodson is passionate about EJ issues and has been involved in developing MDE’s environmental justice programs since 2016. As the EJ officer, Dodson established an internal environmental justice policy and facilitated a program establishing relationships with environmental justice communities across the state.
To learn more about the EJ screening tool, you can register for the 2022 Agricultural and Environmental Law Conference here. This year’s conference will be held both in person and virtually on October 28, 2022, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Annapolis.