Fulton County Environmental Justice Initiative

State: GA Type: Model Practice Year: 2013

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The Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness serves the residents of Fulton County, Georgia, the most populous county in the state of Georgia (920,581 residents) representing nearly ten percent of the state’s total population. The county stretches over 70 miles from north to south and encompasses 528.7 square miles. Environmental Justice (EJ) as defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. In the U.S., Environmental Justice Initiatives were born from research studies and events which indicated that minority and low income populations tended to be disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards in their communities, which could adversely affect the health of community residents. A 2012 report released by Green Law, The Patterns of Pollution: A Report on the Demographics and Pollution in Metro Atlanta, identified 13 environmental “hot spots,” 10 km2 blocks defined by high frequency of environmental pollution points, high minority population, low median income, and several other social factors, located in Fulton County. This finding underscores the continued need for resources directed towards developing policies and other strategies to reduce exposure to environmental hazards to protect those who are disproportionately affected. The goals of the Environmental Justice Initiative are to:

• Promote equity in the impact of industrial and other development activities by addressing Environmental Justice issues.
• Increase consideration of environmental and public health impacts in the decisions related to planning and implementation of projects and policies.
• Influence change in procedures and policies to protect and improve public health.

 

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District 3, Unit 2: Fulton County Health District
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Fulton County Environmental Justice Initiative
The Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness serves the residents of Fulton County, Georgia, the most populous county in the state of Georgia (920,581 residents) representing nearly ten percent of the state’s total population. The county stretches over 70 miles from north to south and encompasses 528.7 square miles. Environmental Justice (EJ) as defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. In the U.S., Environmental Justice Initiatives were born from research studies and events which indicated that minority and low income populations tended to be disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards in their communities, which could adversely affect the health of community residents. A 2012 report released by Green Law, The Patterns of Pollution: A Report on the Demographics and Pollution in Metro Atlanta, identified 13 environmental “hot spots,” 10 km2 blocks defined by high frequency of environmental pollution points, high minority population, low median income, and several other social factors, located in Fulton County. This finding underscores the continued need for resources directed towards developing policies and other strategies to reduce exposure to environmental hazards to protect those who are disproportionately affected. The goals of the Environmental Justice Initiative are to: • Promote equity in the impact of industrial and other development activities by addressing Environmental Justice issues. • Increase consideration of environmental and public health impacts in the decisions related to planning and implementation of projects and policies.• Influence change in procedures and policies to protect and improve public health. Fulton County’s history in Environmental Justice dates back to 1996 when the Board of Commissioners adopted a policy in the Fulton County Comprehensive Plan to ensure that “the placement of both private and public uses which may be considered environmentally adverse are not concentrated in low-income communities or areas where a high percentage of the population belongs to racial and ethnic minorities.” In March 2010, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners voted to establish the Environmental Justice Initiative (EJI) in Fulton County to implement policies to ensure that no demographic group is disproportionately affected by adverse environmental conditions. An Environmental Health Planner leads the activities of the Environmental Justice Initiative. The startup costs and annual funding of the initiative is $75,000, the salary of the planner. Major activities of the EJ initiative are community education/engagement, and partnership development, policy development. The EJ initiative has resulted in the successful establishment of policies that require the consideration of the health impact on minority and low-income populations in the decision-making process for land use planning and zoning decisions. Process objectives, short-term and intermediate objectives are all being met. The primary target area of the Environmental Justice Initiative is geographies comprised of populations with the potential to be disproportionately affected by environmental hazards: minorities and low-income individuals. However, many of the county policies and strategies implemented will likely benefit the county-population at large. African Americans are the largest racial/ethnic group in Fulton County (43.5%), followed by Whites (40.8%), Hispanics (7.9%), Asians (5.6%), other/mixed races (2.0%), Native Americans (.17%), and Pacific Islanders (0.3%). Within Fulton County, 17% of residents regardless of race live below the federal poverty level. However, 27.1% of African-Americans live below the poverty level.
Responsiveness The public health issue that this practice addressesAfrican-Americans in Fulton County are disproportionately affected by health conditions and health risk factors such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, elevated blood lead level, and low birth weight. Black residents have a higher cardiovascular disease death rate compared to white residents. The rate of emergency room visits due to asthma is eight times higher among black residents than white. The percentage of very low birth rate black infants was more than three times greater than the percentage of white infants. While the cause of many of these conditions can be partially attributed to health behaviors, there is an environmental element that can contribute to these conditions as well. Ample evidence shows sources of environmental hazards are more likely to be located and to be more concentrated in minority and low-income communities. These populations are more likely to experience higher exposures to environmental pollution and to bear higher burdens of adverse health outcomes such as elevated blood lead, asthma, preterm births, and morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular diseases (EPA Environmental Justice Symposium). A 2012 report released by Green Law identified 13 environmental “hot spots,” 10 km2 blocks defined by high defined by high frequency of environmental pollution points, high minority population, low median income, and several other social factors, located in Fulton County. Overall, 25% of the environmental hotspots identified in the metropolitan Atlanta were located in Fulton County. In Georgia no state policy or law requiring the consideration of demographics or overall social and economic burdens of the area’s residents before issuing a permit for developing land for industrial or commercial uses that could pose environmental hazards in communities. In 2010 Fulton’s Board of Commissioners acted at the local level to formally establish an environmental justice initiative housed in the County Department of Health to implement policies to increase consideration of environmental justice and health impacts in project planning and implementation to ensure that no demographic group is disproportionately affected by adverse environmental conditions. Fulton County is an anomaly in the region, as most local governments in the region currently have no enforceable policy or law regarding environmental justice. The process was used to determine the relevancy of the public health issue to the communityFulton County’s support of environmental justice dates back to 1995 when a study conducted by the Fulton County Department of Planning and community Development which analyzed the proximity of pollution sources to residential neighborhoods noted that provided evidence that certain neighborhoods and communities are more affected by environmental pollution than other areas. In many instances these are areas, low-income communities, and areas where a high percentage of the population belongs to racial and ethnic minorities. The 1995 report also included recommendations regarding specific policy and program changes that the County should make. These recommendations included an amendment to the comprehensive land use plan expanding the policy regarding environmental issues to ensure that the placement of usage which can be considered environmentally adverse are not concentrated in low-income communities or areas where a high percentage of the population belongs to ethnic or racial minorities. These recommendations also included that the County would vigorously enforce environmental regulations as well as encourage citizens' participation in environmental planning as well as improving the research and data collection that the County has in place regarding environmental issues to mitigate the pollution disparities in Fulton County. More recently, the 2012 Green Law Report indicated that these disparities still exist. In metro Atlanta low-pollution areas have an average minority population of 25.4 percent while the average minority population of high-pollution areas is nearly double at 44.2 percent. An example of one such community with disparities related to pollution points is the Fulton Industrial Boulevard Corridor. In this 1.5-mile stretch of southwest Atlanta there are more pollution points than in any other single block in the 14-county area. Over 80 percent of people living on this corridor are minorities and 20 percent live below federal poverty levels (Green Law). How the practice address the issueTo implement the environmental justice policy adopted by the Board of Commissioners in 1996, an Environmental Health Planner was established in the Department of Health and Wellness and serves to mitigate the disproportionate population of minorities and low income individuals exposed to adverse environmental hazards due to the concentration of certain industries in their communities. The goals of the Environmental Justice Initiative are to: • Promote equity in the impact of industrial and other development activities by addressing Environmental Justice issues. • Increase consideration of environmental and public health impacts in the decisions related to planning and implementation of projects and policies. • Influence change in procedures and policies to protect and improve public health. Located in the Office of the Director, the activities of EJI are coordinated by an Environmental Planner. Environmental Justice is promoted through activities including: • Citizen engagement and outreach to raise awareness about environmental justice and the health effects of the natural and built environments. • Analysis and dissemination of environmental and public health data to inform policy decisions on land use to promote the consideration of environmental justice and health impacts in policy planning and implementation. • Identification of policies and procedures that could have negative health impacts and cause environmental injustices based upon scientific evidence. • Recommendations provided for policy changes for positive impact on environmental and public health. • Employment of Health Impact Assessments to evaluate the potential health effects of a project or policy before it is built or implemented. • Representation of public health to steering committees, advisory boards, and community development projects.   Innovation Evidence based strategies used in developing this practiceHealth Impact Assessments: http://www.cdc.gov/healthyplaces/hia.htm Commuinity Planning to Address Health Inequity: http://www.ncceh.ca/sites/default/files/Community_Planning_Equity_Lens_Aug_2011.pdf This is e practice a creative use of an existing tool or practiceProcess was used to determine that the practice is a creative use of an existing tool or practiceThe assigning of an Environmental Justice position within the Department of Health Services to focus on environmental justice involved a review of data and literature from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and other relevant agencies regarding the environmental exposures which have the greatest impact on public health. As noted on EPA’s website concerning environmental justice at http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/index.html, EPA has a goal is to provide an environment where there is equal protection from environmental and health hazards for all people and equal access to the decision-making process in order to maintain a healthy environment. EPA's environmental justice mandate extends to all of its work. The coordination of environmental justice integration into all policies, programs, and activities is by the Office of Environmental Justice. Information regarding the role of the CDC related to environmental justice can be found on the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities website at http://www.cdc.gov/omhd/AMH/EJ.htm. Individual health and community health is determined by several factors, environment being one. The World Health Organization provides information regarding the determinants of health at http://www.who.int/hia/evidence/doh/en. After review of the available literature and information, it was determined that EPA and CDC approach to Environmental Justice at the federal level would be beneficial on the local level.How this practice differs from other approaches used to address the public health issue Public Health agencies recognize and attempt to address health disparities through prevention, health promotion, and health education, but opportunities are often missed to collaborate with other governmental sectors with authorities and responsibilities that are important influencers on individual and community health such as zoning and land use development. By assigning an Environmental Planner position to the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness the connections to other departments, organizations, and agencies are made more effectively because the Planner can identify disparities related to public health and environmental (natural and built) issues and understand the role of land use planning, community development, and policy in addressing these health disparities. The Environmental Planner focuses on reaching out to other departments, organizations, and agencies to not only consider public health in their planning and/or decisions but to consider the components of their plans and/or decisions that may create disparity in the impacts to low-income and minority populations. Through placement of the Environmental Planner position in the Department of Health and Wellness there is ready access and collaboration with other staff with expertise in public and behavioral health. The Environmental Planner can recommend strategies to address public health issues that will have a more comprehensive solution through leveraging the tools of other governmental and organizational sectors (e.g. transportation, land use, solid waste disposal, water contamination, laws, ordinances, policies, and zoning). This practice of an Environmental Planner focused on environmental justice assigned to the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness is not similar to an existing model practice in NACCHO’s Model Practices Database.
Primary stakeholdersThe stake holders were Fulton County Board of Commissioners, the Department of Health Services, and the Department of Planning and Community Services (formerly the Department of Environment and Community Development). LHD's roleThe LHD’s role is to provide oversight to the program, specifically the Medical Director. The LHD in this instance is the facilitator of this practice, which is to provide programming with a specific environmental justice focus. The program reaches across all program, departmental, and governmental sectors. Other divisions within the Department provide support to the program by providing data (e.g. epidemiological data) as needed. The Environmental Planner is an employee of the Department of Health Services and is the coordinator for the program. The Environmental Planner plans the activities and facilitates opportunities for environmental justice consideration. Stakeholders/partners The Board of Commissioners role was to allocate funding for the Environmental Justice position. Creation of positions requires Board approval and funding for positions must be a part of the yearly budget. The Department of Planning and Community Services and the Department of Health and Wellness provided input as to where the Environmental Planner positions should be assigned. During the planning for the establishment of an Environmental Planner position, the Department of Health Services was responsible for outlining the duties of the Environmental Planner. Once the position was approved, the Department of Health and Wellness also was responsible for developing the duties and an initial work plan for the Environmental Planner. The Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness identifies situations where environmental justice is not being considered and offers support to provide that focus through the Environmental Planner. The Environmental Justice Program provides support to community members by providing technical expertise related to the environment and land uses. The Environmental Planner also acts as an advocate for community members with planning discussions and decisions. The Environmental Planner also provides information regarding development and policies to affected citizens. As an example, the Environmental Planner has conducted site visits with concerned citizens around their communities to identify, confirm, and/or inform of particular environmental hazards. There has been feedback given to community members as to what entity should be contacted in getting get the issues resolved. The program encourages input from community members to decision-making processes. With the relationships that have been formed, community members and the Environmental Planner know one another by name, have spent face-to-face time, and have worked on projects together. There is bi-lateral communication between community members and the Environmental Planner for the purpose of information sharing. Information is shared via telephone calls, e-mails, and physical meetings. The interactions are not threatening, non-confrontational. Community members have expressed their issues and concerns freely. The relationships that have been developed with community members have helped to further the goals of the Environmental Justice program. Community members have at times requested the input of the Environmental Justice Program, which in turn has given rise to other opportunities for environmental justice input through their networking and collaborations. Community members have made sure that their voices are heard in the decision-making process, raising questions and concerns about health impacts and environmental justice. The public participation, one of the key elements of environmental justice, has helped to demonstrate the need for a staff to be dedicated to providing scientific-data and expertise for the specific purpose of considering environmental justice and public health in preliminary planning discussions. Lessons learnedOne lesson learned in developing collaborations is that every contact is significant. While there may not be a partnership realized immediately or at all with the contacts made, collaborations were often formed through referrals. There have been instances where an individual recognized the need for Environmental Justice to be at the table and recommended the Environmental Planner on staff. Another lesson is that it is important it is beneficial to develop collaborations that fall within the scope of what has been decided to be the program focus. There are various activities that could involve environmental justice input. However, maintaining focus will help to prevent resources (time) being spent that could be otherwise more effective. One barrier in developing collaborations has been timing. In the earlier stages of ramping up the Environmental Justice Program, there were missed opportunities to participate and provide environmental justice input. While after the process or decision entities expressed how it would have been beneficial to have the input, people (internal and external to the organization) were not aware of the Environmental Justice Program and the resource availability by way of the Environmental Planner when the input could have been use. Another barrier has been obtaining grant funding to further the relationships to implement actual projects within the community. There have not been sufficient resources to effectively seek and obtain grants to further the environmental justice work and partnerships. Tasks taken that achieve each goal and objective of the practiceThe specific tasks taken to achieve the goals and objectives from having a designated staff person focused on environmental justice were as follows: 1. The achievement of providing public health input during preliminary planning discussions (zoning, advisory/steering committees, policy development, etc.) began with informing citizens, businesses, Fulton County Departments, and other jurisdictions of the Environmental Justice Program and the hiring of an Environmental Planner. In addition, information about the program was shared via Fulton County Government Television. With regards to the zoning process, there was a process in place prior to hiring the Environmental Planner for providing health comments to zoning applications submitted to unincorporated areas of and municipalities within Fulton County, Georgia. The Environmental Planner expanded the review and response to zoning applications to include environmental justice comments as applicable. As more people and organizations learned of the available resource from Fulton County focusing on environmental justice in addressing health disparities, the need facilitated the opportunities to participate in advisory and steering committees, to offer recommendations for policy, and to further a health in all policies approach. 2. The building of partnerships/collaborations to address environmental justice issues involved primarily networking. The Environmental Planner attended community meetings, governmental public meetings, seminars, etc. From those networking activities, linkages were made and opportunities to collaborate were presented. 3. The tasks that have been taken to affect policy changes begin in the first year of the Environmental Planner assuming the position when a Health Impact Assessment was conducted. In 2011, the Environmental Justice Program introduced to Fulton County Government the consideration of health input into its decisions through the Fulton Industrial Boulevard Framework: Rapid Health Impact Assessment (HIA), which informed the Board of Commissioners on recommendations to addressing issues of concern by the stakeholders (residential and business community). That HIA resulted in a “No Idling” Policy. Since that time the Board of Commissioners has sought input and recommendations to address health disparities through the Environmental Justice initiatives. Timeframe The major part of the task to inform citizens, businesses, Fulton County Departments, and other jurisdictions of the Environmental Justice Program and of the hiring of an Environmental Planner was approximately eight (8) months. Because the Environmental Planner was the main staff person attending and presenting the information and that Fulton County has a large population and number of community groups, even in the central areas Fulton County where the disparities are the greatest, it would have been difficult to make the contacts that were made in less time. While there was a period of informing, that task still continues and is necessary. Similarly, the timeframe for networking is not finite; it is an ongoing process. The process of conducting the HIA was about six months. Outline of some basic steps The specific tasks completed to achieve a functioning Environmental Justice Program within the Fulton County Department of Health Services included: • Seeking approval from the Fulton County Board of Commissioners to budget for the creation of an Environmental Planner position • Requesting approval from the Fulton County Board of Commissioners to recruit and assignment of duties for the Environmental Planner position • Advertising the position • Completing interview process • Extending an offer to the candidate • Initiating of duties and coordinates program implementation by the incumbent • Scheduling presentations in the community to inform about the program and its goals • Identifying and engaging stakeholders in specific program activities • Developing a standard operating procedure for ensuring public health input into land use planning decisions. Lessons learned 1) Relationship building is ongoing and imperative. Since the Environmental Justice Program currently consists of one staff person, making new connections and maturing those relationship have proven to be key in the success of the program. Collaborations have included community members (residential and business), academia, community organizations, and other governmental entities. The Environmental Planner has served as a support to many projects within Fulton County, supporting the work and providing environmental justice and public health input. 2) Identification of the scope of work parameters (what will and will not be done) aids in ramping up the program. Because the needs are great related to health disparities, there are numerous activities or tasks that could be conducted. While the basic duties and responsibilities of the Environmental Planner were outlined at the point of hiring, the specific tasks to making it happen were not spelled out. The Environmental Planner had to be instrumental in coordinating and ramping up the program.3) It does not take a great deal of resources to be effective. There have been significant accomplishments with the current resource (Environmental Planner). Since 2010, the Environmental Planner has been instrumental in further implementation of the program, recommending policies and operational changes, providing environmental input to development, planning, and policy activities internal and external to Fulton County Government. Key personnel appropriately placed can affect change. Cost of implementationThe start-up cost was and a yearly budget is $75,000 for the salary and benefits of the Environmental Planner.
The Environmental Justice Initiative Logic Model lays out the evaluation framework for the components of the initiative. The logic model is an overall picture of how the inputs, activities, and outcomes will enable the County to reach the long terms goals of the initiative of reducing exposure to environmental hazards and reducing the disproportionate burden of pollution sources on minority and low-income communities. Objective 1:Process Objective: Provide public health input during preliminary planning discussions (zoning, advisory/steering committees, policy development, etc.) Performance Measures: Number of planning discussions during which Environmental Planner provided input; Target: 100% Data: The Environmental Health Planner maintains records on the nature and number of planning discussions on which input is provided. Evaluation Results: The Environmental Planner has been providing input on zoning cases in 14 municipalities in Fulton County. Since the Environmental Health Initiative was established in 2010, the Environmental Planner provided environmental justice and health impact input into 283 cases (106 in 2010, 102, in 2011, and 705 in 2012, to date). That is, 100% of all zoning cases vetted by the zoning boards of all 14 municipalities have included input on the potential health impact zoning changes could have on the health of community residents. Thus, the annual performance measure for providing health impact input in zoning cases has been fully achieved annually. Since 2010m the Environmental Health Planner has participated in 11 advisory groups and steering committees with a role of providing environmental justice and public health input. Feedback: Results have been received by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners; Fulton County Citizens Commission on the Environment; Planning and Zoning Department; Director Department of Health Services. Lessons learned from these results is that while it is clear that the Environmental Health Planner has been fully successful at providing health impact input to inform the zoning review process there is a need to enhance monitor to understand the extent to which such input factors into the decisions to approve or decline zoning amendments. Objective 2:Process Objective: Build partnerships to address Environmental Justice Issues Performance Measures: Number of Partnerships formed. Data: Environmental Health Planner maintains records on the number, types, and roles of partners in the Environmental Justice Initiative. Evaluation Results: The Environmental Justice Initiative works with more than 21 partners from the federal, state, local and community based sectors. The following is not a conclusive list of partners: Planning Departments of Atlanta, Johns Creek, Roswell, Milton, Sandy Springs, Unincorporated Fulton County; Fulton County Schools; Georgia Department of Natural Resources; Environmental Protection Agency Region IV; Green Law; Park Pride; West Atlanta Watershed Alliance; Mothers and Others for Clean Air; Environmental Community Action Inc. (ECO-Action); Atlanta Beltline Partnership; Atlanta Beltline, Inc.; City of Atlanta Neighborhood Planning Units; Fulton County Local Emergency Planning Committee; Georgia State University Public Health Institute and Health Policy Center, Georgia Institute of Technology-Center for Quality Growth and Regional Development; Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University. Partnership development is an ongoing process. The EJ Initiative has been fully successful at establishing a diverse set of partners that support the goals of the initiative. Feedback: Results have been received by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners; Fulton County Citizens Commission on the Environment; Planning and Zoning Department; Director Department of Health Services. Establishment of a diverse set of partners is critical to the success of environmental justice initiatives. An important lesson learned in development of partnerships is that partnership development is an ongoing and evolving process. Relevant stakeholders must be engaged that have a keen interest in environmental justice issues affecting specific communities. The degree to which partners will choose to engage in partnerships to address environmental justice is correlated to the degree to which the impact of land use decisions on exposure to environmental hazards is understood. Objective 3:Outcome Objective: Develop and implement new policies and/or policy changes that promote reduction of exposure to environmental health hazards. Performance Measures: Number of policies and policy changes enacted. Data: On behalf of the Department of Health and Wellness the Environmental Health Planner drafts policies relevant to achieving the goals and objectives of the Environmental Justice Initiative. All health related policies are promulgated by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and are maintained by the Clerk of the County Commission. Evaluation Results: Three major county policies have been promulgated as a result of activities led and coordinated by the Environmental Health Planner. 1) A county-wide No Idling Resolution was promulgated which protects the public’s health by reducing vehicular emissions from County-owned and operated vehicles. This No-Idling resolution was passed based on data generated by a rapid Health Impact Assessment conducted of plans to redevelop an industrial corridor of south Fulton County that abuts residential communities with large populations of minorities and low-income residents. The No-Idling Policy is intended to counter the effects of the increase in diesel vehicle traffic that would occur due to the commercial redevelopment. 2) A standard operating procedure was created to implement policies and procedures for conducting environmental justice review of zoning requests in the context of the health implications of the proposed zoning petitions and amendments. 3) Resolution establishing a Fulton County an Environment Justice Workgroup to develop recommended policies and projects to enhance environmental justice in Fulton County Feedback: Results have been received by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners; Fulton County Citizens Commission on the Environment; Planning and Zoning Department; Director Department of Health Services. Having a dedicated staff member solely focused on development of policies through citizen engagement and through a deliberate process using tools such as the Health Impact can provide a scientific basis for support of policies that protect citizens from environmental hazards. Policies must be developed in a way in that all citizens are protected from environmental hazards in addition to those populations that are most vulnerable.
Stakeholder CommitmentThere is sufficient stakeholder commitment in that the Fulton Commissioners have had a longstanding goal for Health and Human Services, specifically to coordinate health and social services, in collaboration with the justice system and community partners, and to provide prevention programs to needy and at-risk populations that enhance the quality of life. On August 16, 1995, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners acknowledged the implementation of Executive Order 12898 in a Resolution instructing staff to prepare a report on the issue of Environmental Justice. Executive Order 12898 requires federal agencies to develop plans and programs to eliminate environmental discrimination, and to protect people who live in low-income neighborhoods or in areas where minorities predominate from being exposed to environmental hazards and having projects imposed which destroy the community. On March 6, 1996 the Fulton County Board of Commissioners approved a set of Comprehensive Policies and Plans to address Environmental Justice issues in Fulton County. These policies stipulated that any uses or activities which could pose a potential or immediate environmental threat to the health and wellness of nearby residents should not be concentrated in vulnerable communities with low income or predominantly minority populations As part of the historical and ongoing support of the Board for Environmental Justice concerns on January 20, 2010 the county budget was amended to include an Environmental Planner Position to focus on Environmental Justice concerns. After three budget cycles, the Environmental Planner position continues to be funded. The Environmental Planner has contributed environmental justice - related recommendations and information to the Board of Commissioners as well as to other departments and personnel which are internal to Fulton County Government. Since hiring an Environmental Planner, there has been more policies approved that crosses sectors as oppose to the historical policies which were focused on comprehensive planning policies related to land use. The progress that has been made has aided in garnering support for the existence of the Environmental Justice Program. SustainabilityAlthough Fulton County is working under a shrinking budget, there is not any plan to discontinue the Environmental Justice Program, specifically to fund the Environmental Planner position. The Environmental Planner position is funded out of the general fund for Fulton County. Sustaining an Environmental Planner assigned to the Department of Health Services is matter of the salary being budgeted. The practice of assigning a staff person within public health, who is specifically focused on environmental justice, does not require a large budget. There is not a need to leverage resources to fund the position at this time or in the foreseeable future. As long as the Board of Commissioners maintains its commitment to environmental justice and addressing health disparities, it is expected that the Environmental Planner position will continue to be funded. However, should the capacity of the Environmental Justice Program be built, it may require the leveraging of resources and outside funding.
 
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