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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Environmental Justice

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Welcome to the U.S. Department of Transportation Environmental Justice Website. On this website you will find information on environmental justice history, policy documents, FAQ's, case studies, training, and resources.

What is Environmental Justice?

Environmental Justice (EJ) at the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) 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.

Why is Environmental Justice Important?

EJ is important because it helps to ensure full and fair participation by potentially affected communities in every phase of the transportation decision-making process. When this is accomplished, the development, construction, operation and maintenance of transportation projects should reflect an equitable distribution of benefits and burdens. EJ is not a new concept. In 1994, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12898, directing federal agencies, to the greatest extent practicable, to identify and address disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations. In 1997, the Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) issued an Order to address EJ in minority populations and low-income populations to summarize and expand upon the requirements of Executive Order 12898 on EJ. The FHWA issued its own EJ Order in 1998 (Order 6640.23). U.S. DOT, FHWA, and other modal administrations have since updated the respective orders and continually seek to enhance their efforts to address EJ effects of their programs, policies, and activities.

What is an Environmental Justice Strategy?

Executive Order 12898 directs each Federal agency to develop an agency-wide EJ strategy to implement its requirements. The DOT EJ Strategy includes implementable action items that reflect DOT's commitment to EJ principles and integrating those principles into DOT programs, policies and activities. DOT issued its original EJ strategy in 1995 and it is updated periodically. Each year, the DOT reports progress on implementing the goals of its EJ Strategy in Annual Implementation Reports

Updated: 5/4/2016
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