Advancing Environmental Justice
Historically, minority and low-income communities have not been engaged meaningfully in the decision-making process for major transportation projects and other infrastructure throughout the Nation. Ensuring full and fair participation by all communities who may be potentially impacted by Federal activities early in the process can help accelerate project delivery. To help address these concerns, in 1994, the White House issued Executive Order 12898 to ensure that Federal agencies make achieving environmental justice (EJ) part of their mission. Agencies accomplish this by identifying and addressing disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of Federal programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations.
As applied to transportation, EJ helps to ensure specific analysis of decisions and meaningful involvement of all communities potentially affected by transportation projects. When EJ is effectively addressed, the development, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation projects lead to an equitable distribution of benefits and burdens throughout the transportation network.
The Federal Highway Administration addresses EJ through numerous policies, programs, and activities that help to identify and prevent discriminatory effects. These efforts also help ensure that potential impacts to communities and people are recognized early and continually throughout the transportation decision-making process, from early planning through implementation.
To help transportation professionals effectively integrate the principles of EJ and nondiscrimination into all Federal programs and activities, the National Highway Institute (NHI) developed Fundamentals of Environmental Justice.
EJ Training in a New Format
NHI currently offers the EJ fundamentals course in two formats. In summer 2017, NHI launched a 4-hour, Web-based training version, course number 142074. The training explains how EJ applies to each stage of transportation decision making. The course presents participants with a variety of strategies and resources for considering EJ throughout the process.
The Web-based course is available to transportation practitioners at no cost and is strongly recommended as a prerequisite to course number 142005, NEPA and the Transportation Decisionmaking Process, and course 142036, Public Involvement in the Transportation Decisionmaking Process.
The online course includes updates to the resources, guidance, policies, and case studies provided in the 2-day instructor-led version of the training, course number 142042. “The Web-based training allows participants to work at their own pace to gain knowledge on EJ and transportation decision making,” says Keith Moore, an environmental program specialist with FHWA’s Resource Center and one of NHI’s instructors. “However, the in-person, instructor-led version of the fundaments of EJ course provides participants with an opportunity for interagency and cross-agency discussion and networking.”
The instructor-led version is still available, although NHI anticipates it will no longer be offered after fall 2018. The course costs $700 per participant and provides 1.2 continuing education units for those who successfully complete the training.
FHWA and NHI are developing a new intermediate-level, 2-day instructor-led training on environmental justice analysis. Once the analysis course has launched, NHI’s existing instructor-led Fundamentals of Environmental Justice course will no longer be offered.
For more information, visit www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov. To register for a session or to sign up to receive alerts when sessions are scheduled, visit the individual course description page.
Fleming El-Amin is a community planner with FHWA’s Office of Human Environment.