Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Earth Day Agenda Announced: Seattle Launches Equity & Environment Initiative

Bellamy Pailthorp
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray at a launching celebration for Seattle's new Equity & Environment Agenda, on Earth Day, April 22, 2016. The event took place on the banks of the Lower Duwamish River, a Superfund cleanup site.

It’s Earth Day. And one of the most pressing issues for the green movement these days is the idea that environmental justice needs to reach all kinds of people, not just a privileged, white few. The city of Seattle marked the day with the unveiling of its newEquity & Environment Agenda. 

The agenda was unveiled on the banks of the Lower Duwamish River, a Superfund cleanup site where Seattle Mayor Ed Murray pointed out that more than 60 percent of people living nearby in the neighborhoods of South Park, Beacon Hill and Georgetown are people of color with lower incomes. Many of them are immigrants with varying levels of proficiency in English.

“And a University of Washington study found that residents in these areas have a higher rate of childhood asthma, deaths from stroke and lung cancer,” Murray said.   

The mayor was surrounded by the members of a new environmental justice steering committee.

Seattle's new to-do list is published as a 40-page glossy booklet. Key principles include ensuring equity in the city's environmental programs and healthy environments for all.

Among the immediate actions are adding environmental jobs to Seattle’s Summer Youth Employment Initiative and delivering low-cost fruits and vegetables to impoverished families who are enrolled in Seattle’s Preschool Program.  

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to