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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Public Roads - March/April 2016

Date:
March/April 2016
Issue No:
Vol. 79 No. 5
Publication Number:
FHWA-HRT-16-003
Table of Contents

Environmental Justice: The New Normal for Transportation

by Brenda C. Kragh, Carolyn Nelson, and Candace Groudine

FHWA underscores the importance of EJ within the decisionmaking process.

 

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These homes were built as part of the Newtown Pike Extension in Lexington, KY, to help mitigate the disproportionately high and adverse impacts on the Davis Bottom neighborhood.

 

Historically, Federal agencies and funding recipients did not always consider impacts to all affected communities for transportation projects. As a result, sometimes these activities may have caused disproportionately high and adverse impacts on minority populations and low-income populations that were not addressed.

Environmental Justice (EJ) at the Federal Highway Administration means identifying and addressing disproportionately high and adverse effects of the agency’s programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations to achieve an equitable distribution of benefits and burdens. This includes the full, fair, and meaningful participation by all potentially affected communities through all phases of transportation decisionmaking.

FHWA considers EJ in all phases of project development including planning, environmental review, design, right-of-way, construction, and maintenance and operations. FHWA also considers EJ in all other programs and activities, such as public involvement, freight planning, safety measures, tribal consultation, and the Title VI Civil Rights Program.

In 1983, at the request of Congress, the U.S. General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office) investigated and published a report titled Siting of Hazardous Landfills and Their Correlation with Racial and Economic Status of Surrounding Communities. The report found that three out of the four offsite hazardous waste landfills investigated in Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina were located in majority black communities, and all four site areas contained at least 26 percent of the population with income below the poverty level. The report also indicates the siting of such hazardous waste landfills was a State responsibility at that time.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12898, requiring Federal agencies to identify and address adverse human health or environmental effects resulting from their programs, policies, or activities on affected populations. Following the issuance of E.O. 12898, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration issued EJ orders establishing policies and procedures related to their activities.

The agencies’ EJ orders involve identifying and addressing the potential effects of transportation projects on minority populations and low-income populations. Doing so requires the full, fair, and meaningful participation by all communities throughout all phases of transportation decisionmaking.

Since issuance of the EJ orders, recipients of Federal funds, such as State and local transportation agencies, have continually requested specific guidance on implementation. Understanding the uniqueness of contexts, varying data needs and quality, changing demographics, and other complex unknowns at different stages of project development make providing specific guidance problematic. That is why FHWA has chosen an oversight approach that offers flexibility to States and local transportation agencies, because they know their communities best.

To assist recipients of Federal funding in complying with EJ requirements, FHWA offers training, technical assistance, case studies, and webinars on EJ, and guidance on specific definitions and parameters in its EJ order. FHWA also has developed a number of programs, partnerships, and documents, including the new Environmental Justice Reference Guide (FHWA-HEP-15-035). Together, these resources help ensure that all who accept Federal funds meet EJ requirements, as well as a host of other Federal requirements, such as those in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

EJ Orders: The Specifics

E.O. 12898 signifies the acknowledgement of the Executive branch of the Federal Government that environmental issues must be considered when Federal agencies engage in decisionmaking that is likely to have an impact on minority populations or low-income populations. E.O. 12898 requires that all Federal agencies develop policies to achieve EJ “to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law.” Although Executive orders are not laws, they do require Federal agencies--and, by extension, the recipients of Federal funding--to abide by them.

 

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E.O. 12898 mandates that each Federal agency develop an agencywide EJ strategy. The strategy must list programs, policies, planning, and participation processes that, at a minimum, promote enforcement of all health and environmental authorities in areas with minority populations or low-income populations; ensure greater public participation; improve research and data collection relating to the health and environment of these populations; and identify differential patterns of consumption of natural resources.

USDOT issued its EJ Strategy in 1995 and updated it in 2012, which identifies three fundamental principles of EJ that guide the Department’s actions:

  • To avoid, minimize, or mitigate disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects, including social and economic effects, on minority populations and low-income populations.
  • To ensure the full and fair participation by all potentially affected communities in the transportation decisionmaking process.
  • To prevent the denial of, reduction in, or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority populations and low-income populations.

USDOT further responded to E.O. 12898 by issuing the DOT EJ Order in April 1997. In May 2012, USDOT issued Departmental Order 5610.2(a), an update to the earlier order. The revised order provides more detail on how the objectives of EJ must be integrated into planning and project development, rulemaking, and policy formulation. It also affirms the importance of considering EJ principles as part of early planning activities.

 

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President Clinton signed E.O. 12898 on February 11, 1994.

 

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In June 2012, FHWA issued FHWA Order 6640.23A, a directive that replaced a previous FHWA EJ order from 1998. This order explains the agency’s EJ policy and describes how EJ should relate to a broad range of FHWA activities.

“FHWA EJ Order 6640.23A reflects FHWA’s longstanding policy to actively ensure nondiscrimination in federally funded activities,” says Gloria Shepherd, associate administrator of the FHWA Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty. “The order provides a framework to identify and prevent discriminatory effects when administering FHWA’s programs, policies, and activities. We want to ensure that impacts to communities and people are recognized early and continually throughout the transportation decision making process.”

In 2013, FHWA also established an EJ Implementation Workgroup, which meets monthly to discuss relevant EJ issues. The group includes staff from headquarters and division offices within a variety of disciplines. The group also hosts outside speakers, such as staff from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who have demonstrated and discussed their EJSCREEN program with the workgroup.

The FHWA Implementation Workgroup developed the EJ Reference Guide in 2015 to increase EJ capacity among transportation practitioners at FHWA division offices, State departments of transportation, and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs). The guide is available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/environmental_justice/resources/reference_guide_2015.

EJ and Title VI

The transmittal memorandum that accompanied E.O. 12898 explained how agencies can use specific provisions of existing law to achieve the order’s EJ goals. In the memorandum, President Clinton encouraged agencies to account for EJ in the implementation of Title VI, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs receiving Federal assistance.

 

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“The memorandum is significant because it helps to provide the broader civil rights context upon which the E.O. is based,” says Warren Whitlock, associate administrator for the Office of Civil Rights at FHWA. “In addition to being about agencies’ aspirations to avoid actions that are discriminatory, the E.O. is also about the obligation to take practical steps to achieve greater social equity.”

Although the nondiscrimination principles of E.O. 12898 and the Title VI statute intersect, they are two separate mandates, each with its own requirements. For example, the term “minority,” which is a category under EJ, overlaps with “race, color, and national origin [including individuals with limited English proficiency],” which the Title VI statute protects. EJ principles, however, also apply to low-income populations, which the Title VI statute does not cover.

Under USDOT’s and FHWA’s Title VI regulations, a recipient of Federal financial assistance is prohibited from administering its programs in a way that discriminates against individuals based on their race, color, or national origin. For example, an agency’s policy or practice that results in discriminatory effects or disparate impacts violates Title VI regulations, even if the results are unintended. For example, a State may grant a permit for an industrial plant to operate in a predominantly minority community because the owner of the proposed plant met all the applicable legal standards. However, if the plant begins emitting toxic pollutants when it is operational, the State could be found in violation of EPA’s Title VI regulations because it failed to protect the residents of this community from adverse disparate impacts from the cumulative effects of pollution coming from the plant. The Title VI regulations also prohibit intentional discrimination.

One central objective of E.O. 12898 and the transmittal memorandum is to ensure that Federal agencies enforce and promote non-discrimination. On the other hand, Title VI applies to all activities of Federal recipients, not only those which may have human health or environmental effects.

Although the Title VI statute protects persons from discrimination solely on the basis of race, color, and national origin, the FHWA Title VI Program includes other nondiscrimination statutes and authorities under its umbrella, including E.O. 12898, ensuring that FHWA’s recipients do not discriminate based on income, sex, age, disability, or limited English proficiency as well.

Supporting Implementation

The FHWA Title VI Program uses several tools to ensure nondiscrimination. For example, every State department of transportation must submit an implementation plan that describes how, as a recipient of Federal financial assistance, it reviews program areas to identify disparate impacts on the public that may constitute discrimination.

In addition, FHWA’s Office of Civil Rights, which oversees the FHWA Title VI Program, conducts reviews of State DOT programs to ensure compliance with those requirements and to strengthen programs containing deficiencies. If a State DOT determines that a project causes disproportionately high and adverse impacts on a given population group relative to other population groups, then it must analyze the disparate impact. The Federal program areas subject to such review and analysis may include planning, environment, design, right-of-way, construction, maintenance and operations, safety, research, and training.

Further, a core element of the FHWA Title VI Program is a regulatory requirement that the State DOT collect demographic and economic data about its populations. These data enable State DOTs to identify trends and impacts associated with their program areas and to determine whether one or more of the population groups has borne disproportionately high and adverse impacts.

FHWA also requires every State DOT to sign a document subjecting it to the Standard Title VI/Nondiscrimination Assurances. Among these is E.O. 12898, which is one of the numerous statutory, regulatory, and executive authorities to which the assurance binds its signatories. The Title VI Program also requires that FHWA conduct reviews of all recipients, helping them strengthen their programs by maintaining compliance with Title VI and other nondiscrimination requirements.

“Title VI requires all recipients of Federal funding to ensure that their programs operate in a nondiscriminatory manner,” says Deeana Jang, chief of the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. “The nexus of Title VI and Environmental Justice is exemplified by Title VI’s requirement that recipients’ and subrecipients’ activities that affect the environment or human health must not intentionally discriminate or have the effect of discriminating against any person on the basis of race, color, or national origin.”

Transportation Decisionmaking

Properly implemented, EJ principles and procedures improve all levels of transportation decisionmaking by enabling practitioners to make transportation decisions that meet the needs of all people. These principles ensure the design of transportation facilities that fit more harmoniously into communities. They also enhance public involvement, strengthen community-based partnerships, and provide minority populations and low-income populations with opportunities to learn about and improve the quality and usefulness of transportation in their lives.

 

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The FHWA Title VI Program is broader than the Title VI statute and encompasses other nondiscrimination statutes and authorities under its umbrella, including Executive Order 12898 on EJ.

 

Principles of EJ also help to improve data collection, monitoring, and analysis tools that assess the needs of and analyze the potential impacts on minority populations and low-income populations. These tools help to minimize and mitigate unavoidable impacts by identifying concerns early in the planning phase and providing offsetting initiatives and enhancement measures to benefit affected communities and neighborhoods.

Environmental Review

Environmental Justice should be an integral part of the environmental review process including the implementation of the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). NEPA requires Federal agencies to consider the social, economic, and environmental effects of each project proposed for Federal funding. Regardless of the NEPA class of action, recipients of FHWA funds must address whether the proposed project will impact EJ populations. Where there is an impact to the EJ population, part of the analysis will include determining if there will be a disproportionately high and adverse effect on minority populations or low-income populations.

NEPA requires, and FHWA is committed to, examining and avoiding potential impacts on the social and natural environment when considering proposed transportation projects. The agency’s NEPA process is an approach to balanced transportation decisionmaking that takes into account the potential impacts on the human and natural environment and the public’s need for safe and efficient transportation.

 

Comparison Of EJ, The Title VI Statute, And The FHWA Title VI Program

Area of Comparison

EJ

Title VI Statute

FHWA Title VI Program

Authorizing Source Executive Order 12898 Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VI Program and Related Authorities: 23 Code of Federal Regulations 200
Goal Identify and address disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority populations and low-income populations. Prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs receiving Federal assistance. Ensure that funding recipients comply with Title VI and related civil rights authorities.
Protected Classes Minority populations and low-income populations Race, color, and national origin Race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, low-income, and limited English proficiency
Covered Actions Federal programs, policies, and activities All activities of recipients of Federal assistance All activities of recipients of FHWA assistance
FHWA Lead Office Office of Civil Rights and Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty Office of Civil Rights Office of Civil Rights
Entities Responsible for Implementation FHWA offices and recipients of Federal assistance FHWA offices and recipients of Federal assistance FHWA offices and recipients of FHWA assistance
Provides Authority for Private Parties to Initiate a Lawsuit No. However, where an agency opts to examine EJ as part of its NEPA analysis, courts may review the EJ analysis under the Administrative Procedure Act. Yes. However, there is only a private right of action in a lawsuit for claims of intentional discrimination and not disparate impact discrimination. Only the funding agency issuing the disparate impact regulation has the authority to challenge a recipient’s actions under a disparate impact claim. No.

On December 16, 2011, FHWA issued a memorandum titled “Guidance on Environmental Justice and NEPA.” The memorandum describes the process involved in addressing Environmental Justice during NEPA review, including documentation requirements. The 2011 memo also supplements the FHWA Technical Advisory T6640.8A, which provides guidance for documenting the potential social, economic, and environmental impacts considered in the development and implementation of highway projects. The memorandum provides that “explicit consideration of potential effects on minority populations and low-income populations is required in NEPA documents, and normally will be found under the social and economic discussion sections. This guidance applies to all NEPA classes of action, as appropriate.”

In the transportation decisionmaking process, EJ sets forth a practice by which the impacts on low-income populations and minority populations are addressed in NEPA to provide more comprehensive and balanced outcomes. NEPA’s critical elements (addressing impacts, developing alternatives, public involvement, documentation, interagency coordination, and mitigation) can all be completed under the purview of EJ, leading to better transportation decisionmaking.

Learning From Successes

Federal agencies, State DOTs, and MPOs all play a part in advancing EJ by involving the public in transportation decisions. Effective public involvement enables transportation professionals to develop systems, services, and solutions that meet the needs of the public, including minority populations and low-income populations. There are many examples of transportation initiatives that successfully integrate EJ principles. Partners and stakeholders can use these successes to champion the opportunities and responsibilities of EJ.

The Newtown Pike Extension project in Lexington, KY, for example, illustrates the effective consideration of EJ principles; implementation of the process of assessing community impacts; collaboration among Federal, State, and local agencies working with affected communities to understand their needs; and integration of quality of life considerations into transportation projects. The project is an example of how transportation planning, project development, and design can enhance quality of life in a community.

The purpose of the project was to extend and upgrade the Newtown Pike to improve the flow of traffic, draw traffic away from downtown, and improve access to the University of Kentucky central campus. The extension project was first conceived in 1931 and saw some movement in the 1970s. However, potential impacts to low-income communities and minority communities, publicly owned properties, and historic resources presented challenges to project implementation. By the 1990s, traffic congestion in the downtown area was severe, prompting a renewed effort to find a solution.

Through the NEPA process, FHWA and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, with a strong presence of and partnership with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, moved the project forward in a manner that considered and protected surrounding communities. The build alternatives for the Newtown Pike Extension project would result in relocations in the low-income community of Davis Bottom. The community impact assessment noted the absence of affordable replacement housing and projected that a no-action alternative would also result in a decline of Davis Bottom, continuing the trend begun by years of uncertainty around the project.

Through a survey and public engagement opportunities, the community expressed interest in remaining in the area. The community impact assessment documented that the build alternatives and the no-action alternative would disrupt family and community ties, that residents would lose the opportunity to walk to major job providers in the downtown area, and that many families would be forced to move from a location where they had resided for generations. The assessment concluded that because none of the residential relocation or community disruption impacts would affect the other neighborhoods along the proposed corridor to the same degree, impacts to Davis Bottom met the disproportionately high and adverse impact requirements of Executive Order 12898.

 

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The Newtown Pike Extension involved construction of affordable housing and noise barriers, as shown here, to reduce the project’s impacts on surrounding residential areas.

 

To avoid disruption to community cohesion and mitigate EJ impacts, the project partners incorporated a variety of mitigation strategies. Most notably, development of the Southend Park Urban Village Plan provided the framework for mitigation of EJ impacts. The plan called for housing that would enable residents of the Davis Bottom community to remain in the area. It proposed a new neighborhood, later named Davis Park, on 25 acres (10 hectares) of the Davis Bottom neighborhood to provide homes, rental units, and new or renovated community facilities. A Community Land Trust (CLT) was created as part of the project to implement the plan.

“Homeowners who may have been more enticed to take their relocation benefits and move away were provided an enhanced resale formula if the home they chose to relocate to was in the upcoming Community Land Trust,” says Thomas Nelson, Jr., division administrator for the FHWA Kentucky Division. “This formula allowed for the purchase of a higher quality, more energy-efficient home that would also let them build equity and remain a part of the community. Renters deciding to stay in the area and move into the CLT would receive 10 years of rent subsidy instead of the usual benefit of 42 months.”

Those affected by relocation had an opportunity to stay in subsidized temporary homes established directly in the redeveloped area. The plan also called for strategies such as erecting a noise barrier to protect the residential areas from increased sound from the adjacent railroad.

“There was great concern over temporarily relocating the residents away from their existing homes during the redevelopment of the area,” says David Whitworth, project delivery team leader at the FHWA Kentucky Division. “We felt that if members of the community were scattered into available temporary housing throughout the city, the community could be lost forever. The project team made the decision to provide various incentives for the community cohesion. These incentives were well-received and helped retain residents as a core community to build onto.”

State DOT Leadership

State DOTs are at the heart of planning, design, construction, operations, and maintenance of projects across all travel modes. They allocate resources from various Federal-aid programs. To successfully integrate Title VI and EJ into their activities, State DOTs need the technical capability to assess the benefits and adverse effects of transportation activities among different population groups and use that capability to develop appropriate procedures, goals, and performance measures in all aspects of their mission. They also need to ensure that Statewide Transportation Improvement Programs satisfy the letter and intent of Title VI requirements and EJ principles.

Further, State DOTs need to ensure meaningful public involvement is afforded to minority populations and low-income populations. In addition to involving the public, they need to work with Federal, State, local, and transit planning partners to create and enhance intermodal systems, and support projects that can improve the natural and human environments for EJ communities.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) worked to enhance public involvement with weMove Massachusetts, a strategic planning process for multimodal transportation. The strategic process is the State’s first comprehensive, data-driven effort to prioritize transportation investments. MassDOT engaged in extensive public outreach to EJ and Title VI communities, and used email and media releases, social media, and discussions with legislative stakeholders to reach a geographically diverse set of stakeholders for weMove Massachusetts. In addition, MassDOT released a questionnaire that was available in five languages to learn about travel choices, key issues, and attitudes toward various modes of travel. This effort enabled MassDOT to identify core themes relevant to stakeholders and ensure that EJ populations were taken into consideration.

“MassDOT’s outreach to minority [communities] and low-income communities was critical to understanding the transportation needs of all of our customers,” says Trey Joseph Wadsworth, manager of MPO activities with MassDOT. “Recognizing that many of these customers are left out of the conversation, the most valuable lesson learned was to utilize the established relationships that other governmental organizations have with EJ and Title VI communities. For weMove Massachusetts, we found connecting with local public health departments to be the most fruitful.”

The Role of MPOs

MPOs serve as the primary forum where State DOTs, transit providers, local agencies, and the public develop plans and programs for local transportation that address the needs of a metropolitan area. MPOs can help local public officials understand how Title VI and EJ requirements improve planning and decisionmaking.

 

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For example, the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) used geographic information systems (GIS) to identify low-income and minority areas and transposed those areas onto maps in the 2035 Metro Vision Regional Transportation Plan, its long-range transportation plan. Through this exercise, DRCOG confirmed that more than half of the anticipated fiscally constrained regional transportation system expenditures are for public transit and other nonroadway projects and services with a greater propensity to benefit minority and low-income residents.

The council also has resolved to ensure that future road projects funded by DRCOG include multimodal elements that benefit nondrivers. In the early 2000s, DRCOG conducted an analysis to identify employment areas that are underserved by transit. DRCOG’s plan is to improve accessibility to employment centers in the region.

Similarly, the Baltimore Metropolitan Council in Maryland developed a long-range plan, Plan It 2035, in which the staff conducted a GIS analysis to estimate the accessibility of minority populations and low-income populations with respect to home-based work and nonwork trips. The council’s goal was to ensure that the plan would have no disproportionately high and adverse impacts on these communities. The MPO identified and compared impacts for both existing and committed projects and under a preferred alternative scenario.

 

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Shown here are before and after images of the Union Pacific Third Mainline-Proviso Yard in Chicago, which received a multimodal facility makeover as part of the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program. Before the improvements, there were two Union Pacific main lines to the south (right) of the Metra station on which both freight and Metra commuter trains operated. Pedestrians had to cross the two tracks at grade to get from the parking lot (far right) to the station shelter. In addition, a double Union Pacific main track had only a single track connection to the north-south Indiana Harbor Belt tracks. During 6 hours of “rush hour” per day, Metra commuter trains occupied both tracks, restricting freight operations.

 

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After the facility makeover, pedestrians can access the Metra station via an underground tunnel, eliminating the need to cross the train tracks at grade. The covered ramp and stairwells leading to the tunnel are visible in the foreground before the station platforms. The improvements also include a new 3.5-mile (5.6-kilometer) third main line, built to the north of the station platform to enable freight trains to travel east and west via Union Pacific’s primary route at the same time passenger trains are operating during rush hour. In addition, a second connection between the Indiana Harbor Belt tracks and the new Union Pacific third main line provides access to Proviso Yard via overhead bridge (visible here to the north of the tracks).

 

Transportation agencies cannot fully meet community needs without the active participation of well-informed, empowered individuals, community groups, and other nongovernmental organizations such as businesses and academic institutions. These individuals and groups advance the letter, spirit, and intent of Title VI and EJ in transportation.

Publications and Other Resources

Because each EJ context is unique to a specific place, history, and custom, developing rules that are appropriate for every situation is difficult. However, practitioners have access to many resources that can help them identify and address EJ issues.

The FHWA EJ Reference Guide, published in April 2015, brings together existing resources and examples that FHWA and partners can adapt to specific scenarios. The purpose of the guide is to provide FHWA practitioners with a single reference document to help them ensure compliance with EJ requirements when reviewing transportation plans; evaluating FHWA projects; developing or revising FHWA policies, guidance, and rulemakings; and creating and implementing FHWA programs.

The EJ Reference Guide does not create new requirements or replace existing guidance. Its primary audience is FHWA practitioners; however, the guide is also available and useful to State and local practitioners, and the public.

In addition to publishing the guide, USDOT and FHWA have approached EJ guidance through training and case studies. Since 2001, FHWA has offered an instructor-led, 2-day training through the National Highway Institute, course 142042 Fundamentals of Environmental Justice. NHI has conducted 44 sessions since updating it in 2007. More recently, FHWA is pursuing a Web-based, self-paced version and a new EJ analysis course.

The agency also has an Environmental Justice Web site at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/environmental_justice and an Environmental Review Toolkit Web site at www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov. The sites include case studies that illustrate EJ considerations.In addition, the FHWA Livability Initiative Web site at www.fhwa.dot.gov/livability includes a brochure on the Newtown Pike Extension Project.

The signing of E.O. 12898 created the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and named the U.S. EPA the lead Federal agency on EJ. The order directed EPA to create a Federal Interagency Working Group on EJ, composed of representatives from 17 agencies of the Federal Government. High-level representatives from each agency signed a memorandum of understanding in 2011 that commits each agency to an annual progress report on EJ activities. USDOT and its fellow Federal agency partners also committed to advancing EJ through policies, programs, and activities.

As a member of the working group, USDOT creates an annual summary report on the Department’s EJ activities, which are available at www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/environmental_justice/ej_at_dot.

Implementation Activities

In preparation for USDOT’s 2014 EJ annual progress report, FHWA sent a request for EJ activities to FHWA’s 52 division offices. All of the divisions responded with activities to report. What follows is a summary of several key activities and accomplishments reported in 2014.

The FHWA Florida Division reported assisting the Florida DOT with the development, review, and distribution of a three-part series of EJ training videos.​ The first covers the foundations of EJ. The second specifies key definitions for EJ analysis, and the third provides a detailed methodology. The videos are available at www.dot.state.fl.us/emo/pubs/sce/sceVideos.shtm.

In another example, staff at the FHWA Illinois Division worked with MPOs in the State to improve identification of low-income and limited English proficiency groups, conduct meetings in locations convenient to EJ populations, provide multilingual information, and use visualization techniques such as maps.

The Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency Program (CREATE) is a first-of-its-kind partnership of USDOT, the State of Illinois, city of Chicago, Metra, Amtrak, and the Nation’s freight railroads. The FHWAIllinois Division aided in development of CREATE and the partnership’s EJ mitigation methodology to apply to all 70 Chicago-area projects, as appropriate. Because of the development of a consistent approach to EJ, evaluations and reasonable mitigation measures will save time on project development and ensure consistent application across all projects.

Other EJ Resources

EPA has produced many resources on EJ that are available to the public. The agency recently released EJSCREEN, an EJ mapping and screening tool that provides a nationally consistent dataset and approach for combining environmental and demographic indicators. The agency also recently released its Draft EJ 2020 Action Agenda Framework. The framework will help EPA advance EJ through its programs, policies, and activities. In addition, EPA hosts the EJ Inter-agency Working Group Web site at www3.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/interagency/index.html, which contains useful EJ resources (such as the 2011 Environmental Justice Federal Interagency Directory and the Community-Based Federal Environmental Justice Resource Guide, which are currently being updated).

Several other Federal resources related to EJ also exist. One example is the Federal Transit Administration’s Circular 4703.1, Environmental Justice Policy Guidance for Federal Transit Administration Recipients. FHWA and FTA have joint planning regulations and project development/NEPA regulations, but much of FTA funding is in the form of grants. The FTA circular serves as a guidance document on EJ activities for grant recipients. Most of the FTA definitions are identical to USDOT’s and FHWA’s EJ orders, but a few procedures differ.

Next Steps

FHWA continues to support EJ through participation in the EJ Interagency Working Group and by providing annual EJ reports. FHWA is working with the Office of the Secretary of Transportation to update USDOT’s EJ Strategy. In addition, FHWA is working to advance the EJ state of the practice through the development of EJ resources such as fact sheets and webinars. FHWA strives to build capacity on EJ and explore topics on the impacts of climate change and EJ, EJ and tolling, and EJ and automated vehicles.

When EJ considerations are addressed throughout the transportation decisionmaking process, FHWA and USDOT can meet the transportation needs of communities while also enhancing quality of life for all individuals in those communities. As agencies work diligently to identify and address disproportionately high and adverse effects, EJ becomes the new normal.


Brenda C. Kragh is a social science analyst for FHWA’s Office of Human Environment, where she focuses on EJ, Title VI, nondiscrimination, and livability. She has B.S. degrees in economics, psychology, and social sciences from Frostburg State (MD) University.

Carolyn Nelson is a project development/environmental specialist in FHWA’s Office of Project Development and Environmental Review.She is responsible for providing technical and project assistance to FHWA division offices.She also assists with EJ, context sensitive solutions, and performance-based practical design guidance for FHWA.She is a licensed professional engineer and holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in civil engineering from Southern University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, and Michigan State University, respectively.

Candace Groudine is senior policy and regulatory specialist for the FHWA Office of Civil Rights, where she focuses on disability law, EJ, and limited English proficiency. She has a J.D. from Georgetown Law, a Ph.D. in educational administration and policy studies from the University at Albany, an M.A. in philosophy from Columbia University, and a B.A. in philosophy and psychology from Brooklyn College.

For more information, see www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/environmental_justice or contact Brenda C. Kragh at 202–366–2064 or brenda.kragh@dot.gov, Carolyn Nelson at 502–223–6765 or carolyn.nelson@dot.gov, or Candace Groudine at 202–366–4634 or candace.groudine@dot.gov.