Issue Brief: The Environmental Justice for All Act


ASLA believes that all persons should have equitable access to a healthy environment in which to live, work, and learn. To that end, ASLA encourages policies and practices that proactively recognize and equitably address the needs and concerns of underserved populations.


According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, environmental justice is achieved when all people regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, or income 1) live in neighborhoods free of health hazards, 2) are able to enjoy equal access to safe, healthy places, and 3) participate meaningfully in the planning of their communities.

In addition to environmental burdens and lack of access, marginalized groups have not historically had a voice in community planning and policymaking, and therefore have not been able to advocate for design changes that would benefit their own health and well-being. Design for environmental justice invites everyone to the table to consider policy and design decisions using participatory and inclusive tools. Landscape architects are uniquely qualified to work with communities envisioning and planning the places where they live, work, learn, and recreate.[1]

Bill Summary

The Environmental Justice for All Act would create new federal opportunities that landscape architects can access to help create outdoor recreation spaces in underserved communities. It also aims to strengthen environmental planning standards, public participation in new project development, legal remediation for past environmental injustices, and executive agency environmental impact reporting,

Specifically, the measure would:

  • Establish the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Grant Program in the Department of the Interior. This 100 percent matching grant program would help fund project expenses related to land acquisitions for new parks, renovation of existing recreation facilities, and development of infrastructure supporting outdoor education and public land volunteerism. Priority will be given to projects that take place within underserved communities, empower the youth in these communities, and significantly enhance access to parks and recreational opportunities.
  • Establish the Transit to Trails Grant Program supporting projects that increase critically underserved communities' access to green space. Transit connections between communities and outdoor recreation include bus lines, bus rails, light rail, rapid transits, or personal rapid transits. The Department of Transportation will award grant funding to projects that specifically connect underserved communities with public and private lands, waters, parks, and monuments. Individual grants provided under this program will range between $25,000 and $500,000.
  • Codify and bolster a  1994 Executive Order 12898  by directing federal agencies to develop environmental justice strategies and regularly report on implementation and progress. The Environmental Justice for All Act also ensures that federal agencies include diverse communities in public health research, data collection, and analysis.
  • Require federal agencies to provide early and meaningful community involvement opportunities under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) when proposing an action affecting an environmental justice community. It ensures robust Tribal representation throughout the NEPA process for an activity that could impact an Indian Tribe, including activities impacting off-reservation lands and sacred sites. Require consideration of cumulative impacts  in permitting decisions under the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act and ensure that permits will not be issued if the project cannot demonstrate a reasonable certainty of no harm to human health.

    [1] Spiegelhalter, Kari, Tess Ruswick, and Patricia Noto. 2017. “ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE.” American Society of Landscape Architects.
Recent Action

On March 22, 2023, the Environmental Justice for All Act was reintroduced in the House as H.R.1705 and referred to the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.

On March 22, 2023, the Environmental Justice for All Act was reintroduced in the Senate as S.919 and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.


S. 919: Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL), and cosponsors.

H.R. 1705: Representative Raul Grijalva (AZ), and cosponsors.


Roxanne Blackwell, 
Esq., Hon. ASLA,
Director of Federal
Government Affairs

Elizabeth Hebron,
Director of State
Government Affairs