Will and Robin Morris Collin recognized for environmental justice work

The federal Environmental Protection Agency recently recognized the Oregon Environmental Justice Task Force for its work building the concept of environmental justice into the culture of state agencies. Professor Robin Morris Collin and her husband Will Collin, an adjunct professor at the College of Law, are members of the task force.

“This award joins past, present and future Oregonians who have devoted decades to the belief that environmental justice will improve the lives of Oregonians for decades to come,” Will Collin said before accepting the EPA National Achievement in Environmental Justice award from EPA regional administrator Dennis McLerran. “We represent a broad range of people who don’t always have a voice in government, and we embrace that voice.” 

The award ceremony took place at the State Capitol in Salem. Two organizations that work for environmental justice each received grants of $25,000.

Environmental justice is equal protection from environmental and health hazards, as well as public participation in decisions that affect the environment in which people live and work. "Environmental justice communities" include minority and low-income communities, tribal communities, and other groups traditionally underrepresented in the public process. 

Oregon lawmakers created the Environmental Justice Task Force to help protect underrepresented groups from disproportionately bad environmental impacts that sometimes result from policy decisions. Members include Willamette University, the Multnomah County Health Department, the Oregon Environmental Council, and the commissions on Asian affairs, Black affairs and Hispanic affairs. 

Among the group’s accomplishments are creating a “Your Voice for Environmental Justice” paper outlining citizens’ rights to be involved in decisions that affect their quality of life; building relationships between task force members and state agencies; and partnering with community-based groups to develop maps of statewide environmental justice groups.