Environmental Justice - 2013 Implementation Report
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has integrated Environmental Justice considerations into projects, policies, and programs across the Department, focusing on comprehensive implementation of the Department's revised EJ Strategy and Order. The Department continues to participate in the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJIWG) as well as three subgroups within that workgroup address EJ in the context of freight movement, implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
Specific actions and ongoing work to achieve Environmental Justice goals in 2013 in the DOT Operating Administrations are detailed below.
Federal Aviation Administration
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ensures compliance with EO 12898 and incorporates Environmental Justice core principles into its actions primarily through implementation of the NEPA process. FAA Order 1050.1E (Environmental Impacts: Policies and Procedures) contains the FAA agency-wide policies and procedures for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. Currently, FAA Order 1050.E provides guidance to FAA NEPA practitioners on compliance with special purpose laws, regulations, executive orders, and other requirements, including Environmental Justice. Further information can be found in Order 1050.1E, Appendix A, Section 16, page A-69. In addition to this FAA agency-wide Order, the FAA Office of Airports has issued guidance for compliance with Environmental Justice requirements for its actions. That guidance is found in Chapter 10 of the Environmental Desk Reference for Airport Actions.
FAA is in the process of revising Order 1050.1E and developing a Desk Reference. One of the Desk Reference Chapters will include Environmental Justice and will provide guidance to NEPA practitioners on how to implement the DOT Environmental Justice Strategy. The Final Desk reference is expected to be available by Summer 2014.
The FAA Office of Civil Rights has issued Order 1400.11, "Nondiscrimination in Federally Assisted Programs at the Federal Aviation Administration." This Order will provide internal guidance for implementation and enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) and Environmental Justice in Minority Populations. Additionally, Order 1400.11 will identify the procedures for coordinating the review of airport projects for compliance with Title VI and Executive Order 12898. FAA's Office of Civil Rights formed a working partnership with the Office of Airports and developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU provides for the Office of Civil Rights under a 3-year pilot program to review the environmental justice section of Environmental Impact Statements for major airport projects; e.g., new airports, new runways, and major runway extensions, to determine if minority communities are adversely affected. The Office of Civil Rights and the Office of Airports also developed a Title VI Pre-Award Checklist to assist airport sponsors in meeting minority population reporting requirements.
Federal Highway Administration
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) advances Environmental Justice (EJ) through its numerous policies, programs, and activities. In 2013, FHWA strengthened its EJ initiatives to ensure compliance with Federal Executive Order (EO) 12898, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) EJ Order 5610.2(a), and FHWA EJ Order 6640.23A. This report summarizes several key activities and accomplishments from 2013. The FHWA Office of Civil Rights, Resource Center, and forty-five Division Offices contributed content to this report.
FHWA Headquarters was very dynamic in advancing EJ over the last year through development of policy documents, publications and research, trainings, and other projects.
- The FHWA Office of Civil Rights provided text for FHWA's 2013 Guidance on Civil Rights Requirements in Public-Private Partnerships, which specified recipient civil rights responsibilities, including EJ responsibilities.
Publications and Research
- The FHWA Office of Civil Rights and the FHWA Resource Center's Civil Rights Technical Services Team conducted a Civil Rights Training "Bootcamp" for FHWA civil rights specialists in May 2013, which included a robust component on how EJ must be incorporated as part of a recipient's nondiscrimination program.
- Representatives from the FHWA Office of Civil Rights and FHWA Office of Planning co-presented on FHWA EJ oversight and monitoring responsibilities and emerging EJ issues in transportation at the 2013 Annual Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Rights Conference in September 2013 in Washington, D.C. The target audience was civil rights specialists from multiple USDOT modal administrations.
- The FHWA National Title VI Program Manager presented on the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (Title VI) Program, which includes a strong EJ component, at the American Contract Compliance Association Training Institute in Baltimore, Maryland in August 2013.
- The FHWA Office of Civil Rights presented a national webinar in July 2013 on the draft FHWA version of the Standard Title VI Assurance, which includes a component on EJ requirements.
- The FHWA Office of Civil Rights presented a national webinar on sub-recipient monitoring and State Department of Transportation (DOT) responsibilities in November 2013; the webinar focused on the Title VI Program, which includes EJ.
- An FHWA representative attended an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) training in Albuquerque, New Mexico which focused on EJ issues in EPA's Region 6.
- The FHWA National Title VI Program Manager conducted two major Title VI Program compliance reviews during fiscal year 2013: the District of Columbia in February 2013 and New York State in March 2013. Both reviews included a significant EJ-component with regard to data collection and analysis and public participation requirements.
- FHWA started planning for a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) to solicit research ideas on EJ.
FHWA EJ Implementation Working Group
FHWA established the EJ Implementation Working Group in early 2013. The purpose of the Working Group is to coordinate FHWA EJ activities by building awareness within FHWA of existing EJ-related programs; enhancing EJ coordination within FHWA and across all USDOT modes; and improving practitioner understanding of EJ policies. The Working Group collaborates by actively using an internal SharePoint site to exchange EJ knowledge. Over the last year, the Working Group has met five times and is developing a wide variety of products. Several key accomplishments include:
- Began developing the EJ Update Booklet which highlights recent policy changes and initiatives related to EJ.
- Created an outline for guidance to help States better understand the FHWA Compliance Review Program and processes.
- Solicited research ideas on collaborative Title VI and EJ data collection; the overlap between EJ and early acquisitions policy; and Planning and Environmental linkages.
FHWA Field Offices and the Resource Center
FHWA maintains Division Offices in each State, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico as well as a Resource Center located in several States. Division Offices provide direct assistance, guidance, and information to sub-recipients. The FHWA Resource Center provides technical support and program assistance to Division Offices. Staff members at Division Offices and the Resource Center play a critical role in upholding Environmental Justice because they work directly with stakeholders, grantees, and the general public.
The following section describes Division Office and Resource Center EJ initiatives in 2013. For many activities, Divisions collaborated with the State DOT, metropolitan planning organizations (MPO), or other local agencies. Division Offices were active in five general areas that support EJ: (a) professional development and training; (b) crafting policies or guidance; (c) public engagement; (d) technical assistance; (e) other projects and programs.
Professional Development and Training
Divisions play a vital role in delivering training and professional development opportunities to State practitioners. Professional Development work consists of efforts to improve staff (including grantee staff) knowledge of EJ. This also includes building administrative capacity to study EJ. Examples of professional development and training activities in 2013 include:
- Louisiana, Nevada, and Utah Divisions participated in an Environmental Justice and Transportation Decisions workshop at the 2013 Southern Transportation Civil Rights Conference in Charleston, SC.
- Maine and North Dakota Divisions participated in "Partnership for Sustainable Communities" listening sessions and roundtable discussions to learn about work being done to help MPOs incorporate EJ into transportation planning. The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is a Federal partnership between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Environmental Protection Agency, and USDOT.
- Connecticut and Georgia Divisions developed EJ tutorials designed to assist new FHWA Division Office planners.
- District of Columbia and Oregon Divisions delivered trainings on the principles of Title VI and EJ to their respective State.
- Florida Division developed and delivered two EJ workshops designed to teach practitioners how to make program and project decisions in compliance with EO 12898 and FHWA Order 6640.23A.
- Hawaii Division received training from the U.S. Census Bureau on methods for identifying minority and low-income populations using interactive online tools, among other topics.
- North Carolina Division staff attended a training session on outreach techniques linking the freight industry with EJ populations.
- Pennsylvania Division frequently distributed EJ-related information and news articles to the State DOT.
- The FHWA Resource Center developed and delivered several EJ-focused trainings for MPOs, State DOTs, partner agencies, and the general public for Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Kansas and West Virginia Divisions.
- The FHWA Resource Center developed a two-hour draft webinar training session on EJ Analysis Techniques as a joint effort between the Resource Center Planning and Environment teams.
Crafting Policies or Guidance
Division Offices can also be involved in crafting policies or guidance. This work often involves a partner, such as the State DOT or MPO. Examples of policies and guidance developed in 2013 include:
- New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Wyoming Divisions assisted their State DOTs in updating procedures for public involvement in transportation planning, which includes consideration of EJ populations.
- Delaware, Nebraska, and Wyoming Divisions encouraged their State DOTs and MPOs to develop or revise their EJ policies and programs.
- Florida Division developed two step-by-step EJ flow charts to clarify EJ analysis and provide a tool to assist with making EJ more process-driven.
- Kentucky Division worked with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to develop and distribute guidance on how to analyze and address potential EJ impacts during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase of project development.
- Ohio Division partnered with Ohio DOT (ODOT) to update and implement the ODOT EJ Guidance for use by State DOT districts; the guidance provides a statewide approach for EJ.
- Oklahoma Division developed general guidance for the assessment of social and economic impacts in Environmental Assessments, including EJ impacts.
- Pennsylvania Division provided guidance to MPOs to assist in providing EJ information in a consistent manner that can be used by both planners and NEPA practitioners.
- Texas Division collaborated with Texas DOT to develop guidance for conducting a Regional Toll Analysis to assess the cumulative impacts of implementing a toll/managed lane system on EJ populations.
Division Offices are often engaged in field support to States related to public engagement. Examples of public engagement in 2013 include:
- Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia Divisions assisted their State DOTs in incorporating strategies for engaging EJ populations into State Public Participation Plans and project-specific Public Involvement Plans.
- Alabama Division and Alabama DOT participated in an EJ-oriented public involvement meeting on construction work for the I-59/20 Central Business District Bridge Replacement Project in Birmingham, Alabama.
- Connecticut Division sponsored and coordinated four public hearings in conjunction with the Transportation Management Association (TMA) Federal Certification Reviews. During the hearings each MPO's EJ policies and processes were subjects for public discourse.
- Florida Division enlisted National Summer Transportation Institute students in an "FDOT Website Scavenger Hunt" to test the efficiency and ease of locating nondiscrimination information on the updated site.
- Kentucky Division and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet developed an EJ questionnaire, which is now distributed to all households that would potentially be relocated under a given preferred alternative. The purpose of the questionnaire is to determine if there are specific EJ concerns and identify potential mitigation measures.
- Mississippi Division and Mississippi DOT contacted residents in low-income and minority neighborhoods that would be adversely affected by an interstate improvement project to gauge their desire to have noise barriers constructed.
- Ohio Division worked with ODOT to update ODOT's Office of Environmental Services website to provide the public access to ODOT's EJ guidance, policies, and practices.
- Tennessee Division identified potential impacts to a low-income, minority community during development of a complex project and, as a result, hosted additional on-site meetings and door-to-door visits, and shifted project alignments to minimize relocations and noise impacts.
Divisions play a key role in providing technical assistance to local practitioners to support the work of State DOTs, MPOs, toll authorities, and local governments. This relies on specialized skills, agency coordination, and thorough knowledge of Federal programs and obligations. Examples of EJ-related technical assistance provided during 2013 include:
- Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio, New Hampshire, Texas, and Virginia Divisions participated in TMA Planning Certification Reviews where EJ policies, activities, impacts, and mitigation efforts were examined.
- Florida, Louisiana, Montana, New York, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Washington Divisions reviewed and provided technical assistance for EJ considerations and compliance in their States' environmental documentation.
- Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, New York, and Wisconsin Divisions reviewed their States' Title VI Plans to assure EJ had been adequately addressed.
- California, North Carolina, Nevada, and Pennsylvania Divisions reviewed the EJ considerations and analyses in various MPOs' Long Range Transportation Plans.
- Michigan Division reviewed EJ processes used by MPOs as part of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan updates process and encouraged MPOs to include a transit accessibility analysis into their EJ analysis.
- New Hampshire Division and FTA reviewed MPOs' EJ-related planning activities including their technical/demographic analyses of low-income and minority populations in the region and the benefits and burdens of existing and planned transportation investments on these populations.
- Idaho Division's Environmental Specialist and Civil Rights Specialist provided EJ technical assistance to the State DOT Contractor Compliance and Equal Employment Opportunity Officer on two projects affecting low-income citizens.
- Puerto Division provided technical assistance to the Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority (PRHTA) in preparing its On the Job Training Program specifically designed to train low-income individuals in the construction industry.
- The FHWA Resource Center provided general technical assistance to Arkansas Division's civil rights specialist, and Kentucky and Minnesota Divisions' environmental specialists.
Other Projects and Programs
Division Offices conducted a variety of other projects and programs that supported EJ in 2013:
- Colorado Division assisted with a project that realigned an interstate and enhanced a local park while accommodating the needs of a primarily minority and low-income neighborhood.
- Indiana Division staff and their partners initiated public outreach on a travel lane addition project in Hammond, Indiana.
- Kentucky Division assessed potential adverse effects of tolling on minority and low-income travelers and provided mitigation in the form of free or reduced rate transponders for eligible travelers.
- Michigan Division worked with other State departments to develop skill training for low-income and minority populations disproportionately and adversely affected by three major projects in Detroit to make them eligible for construction jobs on these projects.
- North Dakota completed a population review (i.e. minority, low-income, etc.) in conjunction with their long-range policy plan in order to determine what policies are needed.
- South Dakota Division paid special attention to EJ issues on multiple projects due to an awareness of minority populations in the vicinity of each project.
- Vermont Division funded the development of an Equity Impact Review tool that helps identify, evaluate, and communicate the potential impacts of a policy or program on social equity.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ensures compliance with EO 12898 by incorporating Environmental Justice core principles via implementation of the NEPA process. In addition, FMCSA addresses Environmental Justice in its rulemaking process as per EO 12898 in the event a categorical exclusion is determined for the NEPA process.
Federal Railroad Administration
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) ensures compliance with EO 12898 through implementation of the NEPA process. FRA provides information, technical assistance and resources on a project by project basis by working with project sponsors to incorporate environmental justice core principles in the development of the nation's railroad system when conducting environmental and community impact assessments of pending actions and projects.
Federal Transit Administration
FTA continues to integrate concern for EJ in all aspects of its work. This past year, FTA worked with its grantees on planning protocols for how to satisfy EJ considerations in each step of the transportation planning process. For example, in June, FTA partnered with FHWA on a one-half day EJ training before the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, the metropolitan planning organization for the Baltimore region. The training presented an overview of EJ requirements and Title VI guidelines for FTA grantees. FTA also continued to participate in the NEPA Committee of Federal Interagency Working Group (IWG) on EJ and its associated subcommittees, Community of Practice and Education.
FTA provided additional resources to its grantees so they can fully assess project-level impacts to EJ communities. For example, in August, FTA updated its website and provided answers to the most frequently asked questions concerning EJ in the planning and NEPA processes and began to develop case studies to include on the website that demonstrate the benefits of establishing strong community partnerships and effective EJ analyses.
Finally, FTA began developing a two-day National Transit Institute (NTI) EJ training module. The training will provide FTA grantees an overview of EJ non-discrimination principles and explain the process for planning, implementing, and applying transportation equity considerations. FTA plans to roll out the stand-alone EJ training in early 2014. Complementary to this training, FTA continued to enhance EJ content in the existing NTI course on Managing the Environmental Review Process Seminar. Based on the EJ Circular, the seminar focused on EJ considerations during project development and environmental review. FTA presented at three offerings of the seminar in 2013.