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Environmental Justice Public Roundtable Meeting


11/21 EJ Roundtable video transcript

John Porcari: Good afternoon and welcome everyone. I'm John Porcari, Deputy Secretary here at USDOT. And Let me first thank you all for joining us. This is an important conversation about environmental justice and transportation. For those of you who have not been part of this process before, it's really an important part of who we are and what we do. And, first we'll be taping this conversation today for an online dialogue for others.

But, this actually goes back to a 1995 environmental justice Strategy and throughout the executive branch President Obama has asked us to reinvigorate our environmental justice process. We think a process dating back to 1995 is certainly ripe for some reconsideration and reflection. This is a big part of that process. We'd like to accomplish a couple of things with this process of revising our environmental justice strategy. First and foremost we want to make it relevant to today and tomorrow's needs. We want to make sure that not just at the planning stage but throughout the life of projects, as one example, that the environmental justice process is both relevant and useful. Second we want to make that sure from a one DOT point of view, the environmental justice process is one that people can understand and access and actually make sense. We don't need ten different mode by mode approaches to environmental justice. We think for our citizens out there and those engaged in the process in particular, having a one DOT strategy for environmental justice will be an important step forward. So those are some of the things that we're trying to do through this unified effort. We need your help in doing this. We need your input, your thoughts, your suggestions, and that's part of what today is.

With me here, I have an assemblage of some of the best and the brightest in the Department. We have our Deputy Assistant Secretary from Policy, Beth Osborne; our Deputy Federal Highway Administrator, Greg Nadeau; our Deputy Federal Railroad Administrator, Karen Hedland; our Deputy Federal Transit Administrator, Therese McMillan; our Associate Administrator of Airports for the Federal Aviation Administration, Christa Fornarrotto; and our Deputy Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials and Safety Administration, Tim Butters; and our Chief Counsel at the Maritime Administration, Denise Krepp. So, all of them have been and will be involved in this environmental justice discussion, and this really is kind of a tabula rosa, a blank slate, in terms of where we go and what we do with this really important effort. So, in advance, let me thank you for your interest and your participation; your time will not be wasted. So with that I'm going to turn it over to Beth.

Beth Osborne: So I'm going to give you all an overview of what we're working on right now. As the Deputy Secretary pointed out, our EJ strategy was published in 1995 which led to our DOT order, which was published in 1997. And what we're trying to focus it on is strengthening it based on what we've learned over the last 15 years and also just making sure it's up to date because a lot changes over that period of time.

At DOT in our projects, environmental justice is considered during the implementation of NEPA and of Title VI and there are four key areas that we're focused on within our EJ considerations, which include: access to jobs; quality of transportation systems near minority and low income communities; impacts and benefits of goods movement; and impacts from climate change. The strategy identifies the modes that have a potential impact on EJ through what they do and the projects that they fund and you see them here. It requires these modes to develop tools and guidance to help grantees or folks who work in that area to address and consider EJ. And those tools can be anything from guidance and circulars to administrative statements and handbooks. Our goal is to try and create a more clear process for those who work with the Federal Government on how to address environmental justice. And as the Deputy Secretary said, to have something that's consistent across the modes. As projects have gotten more interesting, more innovative, more multimodal, it doesn't make sense to have completely separate processes. So you're going to hear from my colleagues about the work products that they're developing right now, including a circular from FTA and guidance from FHWA.

Our strategy also does a couple of other things. It formalizes a working group between our modes, so that we can maintain consistency in our projects and our processes which will change based on the way projects change. It also has a regular reporting requirement, that we will gather information from the modes as they learn and produce a report about our efforts on EJ. But finally, instead of waiting 15 years to update things, we're going to revisit it every 3 years, and try to keep things more up to date and consistent as time goes on. So that's an overview of the Department, we're trying to act as the convener in the Policy Office, and then each of the modes are developing things on an individualized basis through this coordinated effort. So I will turn things over to Greg Nadeau.

Greg Nadeau: Good afternoon, a pleasure to be here. Federal Highway's commitment to environmental justice really continues to be a major emphasis within our organization. The agency's commitment to environmental justice was first outlined in a December 1998 Federal Order. Building on that commitment, Federal Highway recently created an internal working group to ensure that the intent of the Order reflects the current requirements under NEPA and other statutory mandates as well as the executive order and the MOU on environmental justice signed in August of 2011. The revised Federal Highway Order is being developed as Beth mentioned, and it should be made available for public review next month. The working group realized that in order to move the issue of environmental justice forward, pursuant to the Administration's desire to ensure EJ as a priority for all DOT Operating Administrations, there was a need to reaffirm an institutional awareness among our state and local partners. One step toward reemphasizing the issue is through a series of webinars which have been recorded and will be made available for review throughout the next year; I believe they were conducted in October and the final one is scheduled for December 6th. Another step will be a collaboration with the National Highway Institute: we will be revamping our environmental justice course called Fundamentals of Title VI and environmental justice. A national needs assessment review on public involvement will also be undertaken, with an emphasis on EJ. Specific training targeted to low-income and minority populations will be addressed through the development of planning modules for use by state and local agencies. Solicitation from stakeholders within our Surface Transportation Environment Cooperative Program, otherwise known as STEP, will provide research on emphasis areas within environmental justice that will provide Federal Highway and our fellow Operating Administrations an opportunity to develop best practices, address challenges and barriers and improve or streamline internal coordination and organization. In order to ensure that current NEPA practices and strategies are being adhered to, Federal Highway will produce a guidebook on environmental justice and NEPA in the Transportation Arena, which will build on our existing EJ program in a coordinated fashion, to make current best practices available to NEPA practitioners and executives. This publication will also be made available to the general public as well. Consistent with the Secretary's, and what the Deputy Secretary just referred to,the One DOT approach, our focus will also be to work closely with our fellow operating administrations, particularly the FTA, to ensure we have a coordinated and harmonized approach to support state and local agency efforts to incorporate EJ principles into their decision-making processes. So there will be many other environmental justice activities that will be undertaken as a result of the continuing dialogue with key stakeholders like yourselves, in coordination with the Office of the Secretary and the DOT EJ working group. I look forward to your questions and our dialogue. Thank you.

Karen Hedlund: I'm Karen Hedlund, the Deputy Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration. Back in 1995, 1998 when the principles of our EJ program were being developed, the Federal Railroad Administration made one grant a year and that was to Amtrak. Over the last three years however we've developed a much more robust grant making organization. We've been given about 10 billion dollars from the Congress to develop high speed and higher speed passenger rail programs across the country, and we're working very very hard with our grantees in developing those projects. We have formed an internal working group on EJ issues and we're designing a brochure for use of all our grantees that provides guidance on EJ principles and processes. And this draft brochure is expected to be completed by January of next year. We're also developing a process to review our internal policies and practices and we're developing and revising the EJ information that is located on the FRA website and I can tell you we're working very closely with our more experienced colleagues, particularly the FTA, and FRA in developing our EJ policies and procedures.

I wanted to just briefly mention one of the larger projects we have going and how we've approached EJ in that project; you may have heard about the California High Speed Rail project, which ultimately will connect Los Angeles to San Francisco and everything in between in under three hours. The first part of that project is being developed in the Central Valley of California and we've spent a lot of time working with the EJ communities in places like Fresno and Bakersfield. One of the challenges we had in the environmental process and the EJ process was that at the time we were doing our work on it, this would have been in 2010, we were working with data that at that point was 10 years out of date, and as you know California has grown enormously over the last ten years, so we went back and worked with local representatives to both get better quantitative information about where minority and low income households were living and then we undertook particular additional outreach to representatives of the EJ community in order to make sure that how we were addressing their concerns which in a project like this had to do with things like noise and visibility, the potential of dividing communities, and so forth that we were addressing all of their concerns appropriately and also making sure we were addressing all of the impacted communities. So I look forward to your questions, and I will turn it over to Therese.

Therese McMillan: Good afternoon everyone, it's a real pleasure to be here and the timing is actually great for summarizing what FTA been doing because we have been on the road. FTA actually began our review of EJ and Title VI in advance of the interagency effort, as part of a comprehensive internal management review that myself and Administrator Peter Rogoff began soon after we took our positions at the FTA to take a deep look at all of FTA's civil rights responsibilities including EJ and Title VI . And one clear outcome of that review was the need to prepare new guidance on EJ and to significantly update our Title VI requirements. The need for EJ to have its own clear focus was very important because quite frankly it had been boiled down to half a page, buried in the middle of our Title VI circular. There was confusion among our grantees and the riding public and advocates about the relationship between the two and it was creating some real issues. So we wanted to make sure that we were giving environmental justice the forum that it needed separate but related to the work that we had been doing with Title VI, and to be very clear with our grantees what was expected of them, not simply to rely on best practices of what certain agencies may have been doing in the past but to really be clear what the 900 plus entities coming to us for grant funding, what do we expect them to do and to do the right thing coming out of the gate. That was really the intent of developing these circulars. So on September 29, we did publish in the Federal Register 2 circulars, same time, one on environmental justice and the updated one on Title VI. We have a unique requirement that any major policy documents at the FTA does need to go through federal register publication and notice and comment. Far from seeing that as a detrimental stumbling block, we saw this as a major opportunity to pursue a new approach to seeking public input on this very important set of initiatives. And I'll just note the public comment period is open until December 2nd. So of you still have a chance to get your comments in the docket in response to our circulars. But your input and the input of everyone is going to be very critical in terms of us really getting a sense of whether we're on the right track with this.

We've had an unprecedented level of outreach with this effort on both circulars – and again it's very important for us to send the message that environmental justice and Title VI work in tandem together and to have that message presented quite clearly. We've had at least 6 webinars with over 500 participants between September 29 and the present. We had community based presentations in 5 cities – Kansas City, Boston, Detroit, Berkeley, in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Atlanta. In fact Atlanta we just had last week so we finished our 5 city tour. I have to say I wish we could have done this in every major metropolitan area in this country because it was an incredibly enriching experience. We modified all of our presentations each time we went out because we got such valuable feedback from the public, from the transit operators that were there and from the regional transportation planning agencies that are going to be core partners in carrying this out.

Just a brief summary of what the actual EJ circular comprises: the key focus in both the Executive Order and then the DOT order, which is core to this one DOT approach, is that environmental justice should not be a separate, stand alone, on the side, after the fact process. It needs to be integrated at its core into existing practices, into planning, NEPA, Title VI and other related efforts. So the focus of our circular is to do exactly that, to provide a framework of how environmental justice considerations and analysis would be done irrespective of what you're looking at but then to give very specific guidance in terms of planning and NEPA, and then our parallel Title VI circular addresses the coordination efforts there. But the very important overlay is that effective public engagement is core to all of those. So that's a theme you see resonating through the circulars. That's a thumbnail sketch of what we have. One of the things we tried to do and we learned in our outreach, was to write these circulars in plain language, which meant prying them out of the hands of our attorneys in some cases, as much as we love our attorneys. We provided translation services at all of our outreach events. We actually provided assistance on how to put comments to the docket, particularly for nongovernmental folks, that can be a very intimidating approach so we provided online assistance in that regard. So we're very excited about what we've done. We got particularly valuable input from our FHWA colleagues as we were pulling this together, and we look forward to seeing all these comments and moving forward with our final guidance. So..Christa!

Christa Fornarotto: Hello I'm Christa Fornarotto, I'm the Associate Administration for Airports at FAA, and just to echo what my colleagues said we at FAA are also very committed to making sure environmental justice is part of every environmental process that we go through. Like FTA we have a lot of sponsors, we have about 3500 airport sponsors that come to the FAA for Federal funding. And whenever there is any kind of new action taken, whether its for a new capacity project at an airport, a new runway, a rehab, things like that, you have to go through an environmental process and it can be very confusing and it can be extremely time consuming and we've learned that one of the most important things is getting information out as quickly as possible to our sponsors in plain English, not with all the legalese that a lot of people see, so that they really do have a guide or a roadmap to get them to success. So what we did at the FAA was, in 2007, we actually published an airports desk reference, which lays out in very concise chapters, all the different components that are needed to make it through an environmental process. One of those chapters is on environmental justice, where we lay out exactly what we expect to see, definitions that are used, things like that and we're happy to provide copies of that to everyone so they can see what can see what we give to our airports so they actually have an understanding of what is expected of them, and to show how important it is in the overall process that we go through on these environmental processes.

Another thing we have had great success on is we do some initial screening or initially planning with our airport sponsors before they embark on a big project and we actually get into the actual NEPA process, and we have been very successful in sending out our airport planners and our environmental specialists to work with airports so that we can try and mitigate before we actually begin a project ahead of time, ahead of the NEPA process, and go over different ideas and really try and work through some of these issues ahead of time so that as we begin the process it is not as troublesome for all the communities that are surrounding the airport and we have had really great success with that process overall. And just preparing for this discussion, you know we really asked all of our regional offices if they had some examples of where environmental justice was really a huge issue and you know we had to work through it, and I was very proud to hear that we really try to work those things on the front end as opposed to the back end, and you know even on big projects like the O'Hare modernization project or the Philadelphia project that we're beginning to embark on, we are able to work those ahead of time so they really didn't get so entangled in the overall process. So we've had a lot of success with that. The third initiative that we have going on is something that we are actually in the process of working through this month: we are very close to signing an Memorandum of Understanding with our Office of Civil Rights at the FAA, and that Memorandum of Understanding is really trying to take environmental justice and taking it one step further and actually encompass all the components of Title VI in our process. So we are signing this Memorandum of Understanding with our Office of Civil Rights and the Office of Airports and the Office of Civil Rights will working closely together to create a checklist based off or our desk reference but going one step further beyond the environmental justice and really incorporating everything under Title VI. We will be doing it for all of our big projects, like runway rehabs, runway extensions, capacity projects, things like that, and it's going to be a three year pilot program so we can really get best practices, lessons learned off of that and then the thought is to then expand it beyond and really tie in to what Beth said earlier about really evaluating these things every three years, that's really sort of the process we're trying to get onto that. So we are looking to just finalize the language and we will be signing that and moving that forward.

And then, the last thing I want to touch on and it's the thing that probably most people know – the Office of Airports gives out grants, and we are actually were very proud of the commitment we've made to all kinds of environmental issues overall. Just since 2009 we have issued almost 200 grants valued at 740 million dollars that have actually gone for noise mitigations, land acquisition, things like that and it has helped almost 44ooo residents and students as a result of that. And it's really a commitment that we want to continue forward, we really understand the importance of doing our part in order to make sure we have the infrastructure needed for our country and that's why you really do see a commitment from us with dollars, and with working with the communities to make sure that whatever effect projects are having we try to minimize that effect. So with that, we're always looking for ways to do better and for suggestions and ideas and we really value these types of opportunities where we can talk with everyone and really take your feedback and try and incorporate that into what we do going forward. So thank you.

Tim Butters: Thank you, as John said my name is Tim Butters, I'm the Deputy Administrator for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. For those of who may not be familiar with our agency we're responsible for the safe movement of hazardous materials by rail, ground, air and maritime as well as the safe movement of gas and liquid through the nation's 2.5 million miles of pipeline. Like my colleagues at the other modes we take the direction to reenergize our environmental justice initiative very seriously. Because of our role in transportation safety we want to understand how these impact the communities and the citizens that live there. Public health and safety is important to all communities. We want to ensure that our regulatory efforts and our interaction with the public is consistent with the directives of the EJ initiative and we want to make sure that the public also understands what we do in our mission and how it fits into this overall activity.

Some of the things that we are doing now, we're in the process of implementing an administrative policy on environmental justice and updating our website to ensure that the public has access to documents and materials and information about how we're moving forward in this area and then we also really want to try to better understand the concerns of citizens where hazardous materials are transported, pipelines exist, so we understand what their needs are and we can begin working with our colleagues both within DOT and other Federal agencies to try to address those concerns. We also have staff that part of their position is to focus on environmental justice initiative. So we're happy to be part of this discussion today so we can get a better understanding of what your concerns are and how we can become more fully engaged.

Denise Krepp: Hi I'm Denise, I'm the chief counsel of the Maritime Administration. For those who are not aware, the Maritime Administration is the agency within the Department of Transportation that is responsible for promoting the US flag fleet and promoting goods that move into and out of our country. We're here today because the majority of the goods that are going to be moved on the rail and on the roads and sometimes even in the air are going to arrive via the ships that come into the United States, so we are a very strong proponent of what the Deputy Secretary just referenced a few minutes ago, which is the One DOT approach. Recognizing that whatever happens in the other modes obviously ripples in to the Maritime mode. We have a couple of projects that we're watching right now making sure that we are very consistent with the environmental justice policies of the executive order. And those include the port expansion projects that we're working on in Hawaii and Guam and Anchorage. We also work on small shipyard grants. And a new initiative that we will be working on over the next couple of years is called the marine highway project. We're working to get the goods on the water because we believe that if you move the goods on the water you move them at a lower cost and at a lower cost to the environment. So I just want to highlight that for folks, because that's what you should be looking out for us within the next couple of years. And one of the folks that is a key person on that is sitting right back there and her name in Carolyn Junemann, so I just want to make sure people know who Carolyn is. You have to stand up Carolyn. (laughter) So Carolyn Junemann is back there and another individual I just want to flag although she wasn't able to attend is Michaela Noble, and her names is Michaela with an "a", and last name of noble. She is my environmental lawyer and she also has a strong role in this. So those are the two ladies, and there is a gentleman right in the back who is lurking, his name is Joe Brun, and he is also...Joe's still lurking in the back...Oh, there he is. You have to come in and say Hi...okay maybe not. Anyway, Joe Brun is a wonderful individual and he is also a key part of the MARAD team on environmental justice, so if you have any questions on the maritime side, please talk with them after this. Thank you.

John Porcari: Thanks Denise, and thanks to all my colleagues for starting this off. This is a portion that we'd like to ask the members of the audience for questions or observations or comments. This is your opportunity. We want this to be as interactive a process as possible and as useful to you as possible. Anybody want to kick it off here?

Hilton Kelly: My name is Hilton Kelly, Community In-power and Development Association, Port Arthur Texas on the Gulf Coast. We're home to a number of refineries, chemical plants, and incinerating facilities. Many times what we find in our communities and communities like Port Arthur across our nation, is that we have issues with aging pipelines. And there are a number of explosions that take place due to these pipelines. And one of the questions I have, among many throughout the course of the day, is what are we doing to address pipelines issues when it comes to dilapidated and old structures that are being left and abandoned basically, in places like Port Arthur Texas and Louisiana, and many times fall victim to incidents like explosions and leaks. What are we doing to try to address that and hold those accountable that are responsible for putting those lines in, and looking at the lines, checking them up, and replacing them or capping them?

John Porcari: Tim before I turn it over to you, I just want to note that Port Arthur has done a very good job on environmental justice and making itself an environmental justice community. It was a great opportunity to meet with the mayor and some key staff recently to see what Port Arthur is up to and how they're putting the different pieces of this together. The pipeline part of it is actually very interesting because it's to some extent out of site out of mind, but very much an aging infrastructure issue with environmental justice implications.

Tim Butters: Yeah, it's a good question, in fact this year the Secretary initiated his call to action because of the pipeline incidents that have been occurring across the country. Of course at PHMSA – our responsibility for the safe regulation of pipelines occurs after they're installed. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is responsible for siting these things, pipelines. In terms of the safety enforcement, we work very closely with our state partners. In fact, in most cases, most of the pipelines, with the exception of the interstate pipelines, those that move across states, fall primarily under the states. And we provide grants to states but they have to enforce the federal safety regulations. In terms of how that's being done, we're putting renewed emphasis on the operators to look at the aging infrastructure, those pipelines that are older, in terms of what sort of materials they're made of, their serviceability, what we call fit for service. In our conversations with the operators as well as the regulators, they are stepping up to the plate to get this done but there's a number of issues that kind of fall into this. Number one, the rates that they charge are regulated by a state regulatory commission generally, so some of the ability to invest in the replacement isn't as quickly as we want them to do it, simply because the cost in many cases to do that. The other aspect is that because of the number of folks that are involved in the process it makes it a bit more challenging. But I know that in Texas, a lot of the energy companies are located in that area and they've been doing a lot of work, but we recognize that a lot more needs to be done.

John Porcari: You've put your finger on a reality that we often overlook. In many cases the focus on environmental justice is in the planning stages of a project, while you're simultaneously going through a NEPA process, we need to think about environmental justice throughout the entire lifecycle of a project, so planning, design, construction, but state of good repair, maintenance, reconstruction. And I think that's one of the important points that's been clear to us. Therese, I know that's come up in your regional hearings with FTA. But it's a point very well taken because I think we need a broader and more comprehensive definition of what constitutes environmental justice, not just when a project is in the conception stage.

Hilton Kelly: I'd just like to say one other thing and I'll rest, and that is that in places like Port Arthur where you have tons and tons of pipelines underground, under people's homes, just 2 years ago there was an explosion right next to Interstate 69. There was a subdivision there with $150,000 - $200,000 homes and many people have moved out because of that. There were a number of other explosions that have taken place. This is a very serious, serious, issue and our state regulatory agencies checking into environmental quality do not do a good job of addressing that. And I'm speaking to you guys from a community activist's perspective, not from an official perspective like the mayor or our local officials. They have a totally different view. But there is a serious need for a plan to have something done about aging pipelines, across state lines as well, because there needs to be a more cohesive plan in how states actually work together as well. So, it's seriously flawed and there needs to be some work put into that.

Tim Butters: Yes, one other I wanted to add is that we recognize that and that a lot of these pipelines were installed 40, 50 years ago and communities have developed over top of them. When they were first installed it was really in rural areas, where there was no exposure, but since then... and San Bruno is a good example of that: when that pipeline was installed in the late 50s that was in the middle of nowhere so to speak and communities have developed over top of those. We've developed some materials and working with communities to ensure as they go forward–in terms of their planning processes – that they're aware of where those pipelines are, so that they can make the right decisions in terms of development. And the other final thing is that many of these grandfather –what we call grandfather pipelines – are previous to the federal regulations which came into in about 1970. So we are working either through legislation, regulation to bring those pipelines under our safety authority.

John Porcari: Ironically some of the grandfathered pipelines, by definition, they're older and may have had less scrutiny over the years – are the ones that we should be focusing on. So we clearly see that as an issue. Sir?

Audience member: Yeah I'd like to ask something that actually ties into that and maybe looks at the longer term. It seems as though most of the environmental justice issues that have been coming up and have been discussed or grappled with, and could cost billions to address are all related to our dependence on fossil fuels for our transportation systems. It seems like every hundred years we transition to a different primary mode of transportation, it seems that way in history. So, in the long term, I guess, I'm curious about what y'all, whoever wants to answer, sees – say one hundred years from now. Now one hundred years from now, my vision of the country doesn't include doing business as usual like we've been doing especially with the prospect of climate change on the horizon. What are your thoughts, with regards to where do we go from where we are now to mitigate problems like the issues of the oil pipelines or impact communities for building highways or infrastructure improvements that are going to cost billions to sustain the system that we have now. How do we progress beyond that and have a better vision for transportation and environmental justice one hundred years from now.

John Porcari: I'll start with that and my colleagues may want to join in but it's an excellent question because there is no question that even 50 years from now let along a hundred, the transportation system will look a lot different. And I say system because it is really not a bunch of discreet elements or different transportation modes. It sinks or swims as a system. The balance in that system is changing constantly; we expect it to further change over time. One of the priorities in the Obama administration is to make sure we're getting ready for that future and to do it in a very aggressive way. For example, the recently announced CAFE standards – Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards – of over 54 miles per gallon by 2025: that we believe is the single most important thing we can do to prepare the nation for 1) energy independence and 2) a transportation system that is far more efficient balance, has far less environmental impact, and balances the system among the different transportation modes in a different way. I think fundamentally we need to remember that transportation is a means to an end not an end in itself. If your desired end state is a better quality of life, economic development, more responsible relationship with the environment, then the transportation system needs to adjust to that, not the other way around. I don't know if anybody else...

Beth Osborne: I'll add one thing; I'm the department's lead on our livability effort and I work with EPA and HUD on coordinating our programs. And, you know, we talk about making our cars more fuel efficient and look at more efficient fuels as well but the livability initiative is about providing more choice and allowing people to kind of opt out of the system altogether with more regularity. So through programs like our TIGER discretionary grant program we're trying to fund projects that look at how the transportation system interacts with the built environment around it. Not very useful to have a sidewalk when there's no place to walk to for example. So when we look at the grants that come to us we're not just looking at someone creating bicycle pedestrian infrastructure, we're looking at them creating that in a way that connects people to where they want to go and rewarding those who are entering into that more complex planning process because, you know, we understand that not only are there great environmental benefits, there are actually great cost savings to those who have transportation choices, both in terms of their household transportation costs, but also in terms of the taxpayer, who tends to spend less when these things are well coordinated.

John Porcari: Ma'am?

Elizabeth Yeampierre: My name is Elizabeth Yeampierre, I'm the executive director of UPROSE, which is Brooklyn's oldest Latino community based organization and I also, in another life, chaired the US EPA National environmental justice Advisory Council. Sunset Park is the largest significant maritime industrial area in New York City. And, it has 125,000 people. It's a community that is the largest walk to work community in New York, which is a very cool thing, but again the bad thing is that it is the largest significant maritime industrial area in New York , which means that in the case of a storm surge a lot of those unregulated chemicals will wash right on to our community turning it into a giant Brownfield even though we have several of those. We support the redevelopment of the waterfront and we want a port that will be a state of the art port. We are concerned that a lot of these ships, these container ships, operate on diesel and they're parked right outside of where communities live. We're concerned about even when we talk about the maritime marine highway initiative, we want to know how you're thinking about climate adaptation and whether you're working with NOAA and whether you're working with the Department of Energy to make sure that these changes don't mean more toxins in a community that is already environmentally saturated with burdens. And so we're also concerned about security; we've raised the issue with the Gowanus Expressway now for over ten years – a corridor that covers 500,000 people have built consensus around turning that into a tunnel and taking down a highway that is basically not only blocking open space but has over 200,000 cars a day going through there and 25,000 trucks going through there on a daily basis. So these are really big issues and really are major obstacles to the work that we're doing to create a more livable community and addressing the environmental disparities in that part of Brooklyn, New York.

John Porcari: Elizabeth, those are great questions and among other things it really cuts across the transportation modes. What you described may be a Maritime redevelopment opportunity but it's obviously much more than that. It puts a premium through the environmental justice process of us working with our colleagues for example at EPA and just one portion of what you mentioned – combined sewer overflows and storm water management without any quality controls – those are the kinds of things that we're really trying to do with our partner agencies through the EPA-HUD-DOT partnership. But it needs to be done in a more holistic way. Obviously there's a number of issues impacting that community and there's discreet elements, like for example the possibility of shore power for ships that would help with that, future highway plans that could at least include replacement facilities that may be in tunnels or may be in different locations. But I think if we're going to make real progress on the environmental justice side it calls for broader thinking rather than simply a chapter in a NEPA document that we're doing or a portion of the Department of Transportation. Denise, do you want to add anything?

Denise Krepp: I'd like to add just two more points. You mention diesel. One of the issues that we're focusing on right now is how will our ships be fueled in the future. Will it be diesel? Some folks are talking about LNG right now, others are talking about biofuels, and one of the reasons I introduced Carolyn earlier is that she can talk with folks later about a project that we have in Michigan right now that is testing biofuel technology. And we are doing this with the Department of Defense because we're trying to leverage the assets that both departments have to see if we can come up with a different alternative, and it goes back to the gentleman's question of how do we fuel the ships? Ships are big, they come up with a lot of emissions. Alright, well then how do we cut the emissions and do we do it in a manner that's thinking outside the box. So we're looking at that. And then recognizing that ports are prime property, and that you're located next to some pretty nice looking water, and we want to be working with people and recognizing that when we say environmental justice we also mean neighborhood friendly, and making sure that we work with neighborhoods. We have a lot of ships in MARAD. We're not in Port Arthur Texas but we are in Beaumont Texas, and we are in Norfolk, so we want to be friendly with the neighbors that we're with because we recognize that it's a win-win situation for everyone. So these are issues that we are considering.

Elizabeth Yeampierre: Just briefly, and I completely agree with you, one of problems is that DOT HUD grants that you make available are made available but not made available to grassroots organizations that are actually doing the impactful transformational work on the ground. And communities basically organizations that neither look like us nor represent us nor speak for us are making these decisions, when in fact we have on our staff planners, GIS mappers, policy analysts, those kinds of people that are from our communities. It's really important that if you're addressing environmental justice you not thinking of our communities as passive recipients of somebody else's service but really at the table making those decisions and that funding is driven in a way that has us involved in a way that's actually meaningful because those resources become available and then we have someone else to fight, and it's some regional organization that thinks that they speak for us.

Beth Osborne: Now, I think that's a really interesting point. I know at HUD it requires a consortium of groups be involved to get at just that issue. So you can't just go to a public entity who's not involving all the stakeholders, particularly equity which is extraordinarily important to both the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary. Our grants unfortunately we weren't given additional planning grants after last year so we're really only in the TIGER program at least where we work a lot with HUD focusing on building and that really is something that needs to be handled at the government level. But I take your points; it's a very interesting one on the planning side.

John Porcari: Certainly for not just capacity building but truly representing the community in a more broad and deep way, it's a very good point and as part of this process we need to be thinking about it for future NOFAs, Notices of Funding Availability, whatever kind they are.

Omega Wilson: Yes my name is Omega Wilson I'm the president of an environmental justice grassroots organization that's been dealing with highway corridor issues for seventeen years on the record, and thirty-some years past that period of time off the record for a major highway corridor coming through two historic African American communities in Danville, Virginia for 20 some miles, it was planned for 16 years by the state department of transportation secretly. Okay. Two or three major issues that we're concerned about here is; One is the credibility of the process that you're all talking about. We haven't found the credibility real. With the Department of Transportation in North Carolina, we tried to file a civil rights complaint in 1999, and renewed that complaint in 2010. And most recently it was summarily dismissed by administrators at United States Department of Transportation without addressing all of Title VI, without addressing NEPA, without addressing the clean water act, safe drinking water act, toxic substances act and brown water pollution and so many other things. And what we're finding here... and by the way I was a lead community person writing the goods movement recommendations for EPA as a member of NEJAC for three years along with Elizabeth Yeampierre and Hilton Kelley who spoke before her, as members of the... community members of NEJAC. EPA has invited... I had the opportunity to invite transportation officials from here on two different occasions, a short conference, EPA conference, an EJ conference that was held in Detroit this past August, it involved Title VI specifically relative to what you're talking about, and three days of goods movement conference in New Orleans in 2010, and we got refusals to even participate on the goods movement track or the Title VI track or the Interagency Working Group track for both of those national conferences that were specifically under EJ. So I'm raising the question about whether or not we're talking about political paper or talking about actual stuff that's going to take place on the ground. Our Department of Transportation in North Caroline basically takes the attitude of states rights. The old southern slave state attitude: "The Department of Transportation at the Federal level, which is here, are damn Yankees, and we do the things the way we want to in North Carolina." They have been fighting us over civil rights complaints for twelve years by the Department of Justice. The only way we've been able to communicate with you is through the Department of Justice. And we file a complaints, and we usually we get a response from EPA – when we get a response – it says there is no validity in our complaints. When the planning process for this major interstate corridor -- 8 lanes corridor, for initially 4 lanes, 27 miles to Danville, doesn't account for running over houses with failed septic systems in their backyard, roads that have never been paved, this is an African American Community, streets that are polluted with human waste and failed septic tanks, twenty some at least in these communities, underground storage tanks, pollution that has been dumped on the ground by furniture manufacturers since the 30s, is not a part of the EIS, is not a part of the ROD, that was just recently approved, that neglected to address any of this information. So we raise serious credibility, not on a case study, not on a theoretical basis, but on a real live basis, about what we're dealing with right now. Most of what you say doesn't address the reality that we live with every day, and I'm not doing it from a distance, I've been working with EPA very close up for 7 years, and DOT through attorneys through the Department of Justice, and still we're getting very, very little done honestly from the Department of Transportation.

John Porcari: OK, you've packed a lot in there and what I'd like to do is understand the facts on the ground. Your point is well taken that this is not a theoretical exercise. It's a very specific order. What I'd like to do is set a time for Deputy Highway Administrator Greg Nadeau and myself to actually meet with you and go through the particulars. I do not know this project, so I need to understand it. But I also want to mention one other thing that I didn't want to get lost in the points that you made which is; We operate in a federal system and our partners are the state DOTs and often local departments as well. We're only as good as the weakest link in that chain. And we need to make sure where we do not have that kind of environmental justice working relationship that is keeping with the spirit of environmental justice as opposed to checking off some boxes, then we need to understand that and we need to act on it. And so, that's on us. If you make sure I have your card I'll actually set up a time after we're done because I need to understand this corridor. Greg I don't know if you want to add anything.

Greg Nadeau: I was actually going to suggest something very similar, not being entirely familiar with the status of the issues in this case number, we would be much better off discussing this one on one. But as an overall reminder, I'll build on what the Deputy Secretary said, all planning is local, and the extent to which you can engage with your state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, whatever the appropriate jurisdictional organization is, I call it the doctrine of early engagement, it's something that this Administration and certainly this Federal Highway Administration has been promoting aggressively over the last couple of years. Part of our EJ principal advocacy, if you will, is to work with our state and local partners and to pursue that early engagement to identify those targeted communities that must be involved in the planning process. Doing the right thing isn't good enough. Frankly it's a better smarter way of doing business. The extent to which you can encourage and engage those populations or communities impacted by potential long term transportation projects, the better off you are and the more likely you are to reduce controversy and be successful. Engaging those communities is important because you're going to restrict the kind of controversy, if you will, and the type of legal entanglements that you describe that might occur later. So we're on the same, certainly, theme that you are in terms of engaging those impacted communities early because that will give you much more flexibility in the long term as to the employment of strategies that can mitigate or avoid that type of impact down the road. Be cognizant and very engaged in your long term planning processes at the state and local level.

Omega Wilson: I just want to clarify, for 16 years it was planned in secret with state officials and federal officials over the years. The only way we got in the meeting was the Department of Justice. 16 years. The other part, the goods movement recommendations part is a federal part, that is not local, so we're waiting for the United States Department of Transportation to make real good on a 100 page document that was approved by EPA to incorporate and implement goods movement recommendations that are already written.

John Porcari: And you have my commitment and Greg's that we're going to meet with you on that, we can't solve that here today but we sure can on Tuesday.

Omega Wilson: But I'm just saying that there is a local state issue and there is a national issue. We don't have to take that back to the state, that should come from the Federal Government down to the states, I think.

John Porcari: Fair enough.

We have time for one more before we begin the next phase. Ma'am?

Anita Hairston: Hi my name is Anita Hairston, I'm with policy link, we're a national research and action institute, we work to advance economic and social equity. And I just want to say I'm very delighted that this process is happening and that DOT is putting a one DOT strategy out there and that the modes are working to figure out what that means for their mode and then figure out what it means to work together because I think that's one of common the frustrations that you hear is not knowing who to talk to, not having one point of contact and not feeling like everyone is on the same page. So I'm glad that this dialogue is happening and that there's a strategy out there. And in particular I was really heartened by both the extensive language in the strategy around engagement and early engagement all the way to the end and I appreciate the Deputy Secretary for reinforcing that here today because that I think is a really important piece. Making sure that when you get to the end of the project, folks who were there in the early part of it are still there and being brought along. I think, one of the things I wanted to raise as a question was about both research and, kind of, measuring outcomes, because I heard Beth talk about the outcomes that are desired; transportation access to jobs, which is critically important for low-income people in communities of color. So I wanted to hear a little bit about some of the research that you all are thinking about that could actually help to inform that, and how you might measure your, kind of, progress towards getting to some of these outcomes that you've been talking about. And any of the early thoughts you have about that, I know some of the other Departments have been thinking about this, I know HUD has an equity assessment that they're working on and others may as well, but we'd like to hear from you all as well on what you're thinking about, both on the research side but also, kind of, measuring outcomes.

John Porcari: Thanks Anita and first thanks for everything that policy link does. I think that the more transparent that we are, the more interactive that we are in this process, the better the outcome that we're going to have, and we are going to do this from a One DOT point of view. In terms of outcomes and in particular measuring outcomes, it's very much in keeping with what we're trying to do across the board which is performance measures for what we do. The metrics for it are something that we're going to need to develop together. But part of restoring public confidence, I think, in using public dollars for transportation purposes is through performance measures, in people seeing what they get, what the outcomes are, and that we're delivering not just good value but a good outcome. And that includes a number of things. You mentioned jobs-- local jobs for example, as a part of it. One of the frustrating things for all of us is that as part of the surface transportation reauthorization discussions, including some of the policy proposals we've presented, we have put together a very different direction in terms of local employment, in terms of projects actually being responsive to the individual local needs, which after all are different by definition, for every single project. Without a legitimate discussion on surface transportation reauthorization and all the policy discussion that comes with it, we're just not going to get there. So it's good to have this discussion right now, but I will tell you there's a fair amount of frustration because from a public policy point of view we know that there's a lot we can do but can't do it in the absence of a real reauthorization and a real discussion about it. That's not an excuse, it's an observation of how the process works.

Hilton Kelly: Before we close, I'd like to say something about early engagement...

John Porcari: OK, can you hang on just for a second?

Hilton Kelly: Sure.

Beth Osborne: I would just add that through the TIGER program we have been negotiating with our grantees on measuring of certain performance standards just to get, to test some ideas. If you all have suggestions of measures within this area that you feel are very particular to environmental justice. Because one of the nice things the positive things, one of the nice things is that a lot of the things we measure overall, like accessibility, it's not just EJ that it impacts but it definitely has an EJ component to it. If there are more particular things that you feel we should be considering for grantees, I'd love to hear about them.

Hilton Kelly: One of the points I wanted to make before we close is that when it comes to early engagement, in some of the states, that's something that should be done but many times that particular component gets left out of the decision-making process. And case in point, in Port Arthur TX, they wanted to bring VX nerve gas waste to Port Arthur to burn because there were quite a few other states that did not want it. And they circumvented Federal laws; the Department of Defense circumvented Federal laws and transported this waste across several states to bring it down to Port Arthur to incinerate. Now there was a snafu according to Col. Barber, who stated that the reason why there was no public notice about this waste being brought into our disproportionately burdened community with toxins waste from other state, is because one of his counterparts failed to put it in the Port Arthur newspapers, which is this newspaper, which I stay abreast of. There was no public notice whatsoever. The community In-power development association made a call to the state regulatory agency, TCEQ, and the lady did not really want to divulge too much information about this particular waste being brought here, so she gave me to a level higher up and they said yes, the waste is being brought in to Port Arthur, they forgot to give public notice, and this happens frequently within small communities like Port Arthur, and I'm pretty sure where brother Omega Wilson lives. But these kind of things there has to be some oversight. And when it comes to the department of Defense, there basically is no environmental justice component to my understanding that's being looked at. Because communities that are being bombarded with toxics from refineries or chemical plants, everybody looks at these small communities in the south like dumping grounds, kill zones is what it is and we are being dumped on in large numbers, and it's being done through pipelines, it's being done by rail, it's being done by track, and we're circumventing Federal laws. And Department of Transportation, I don't know what's happening, but what we really need to take a close look at is how chemical weapons can be transported across state lines when there are federal laws in place to stop this. There is a serious miscommunication and people's civil rights are being violated on the ground, and we're getting very very tired of it.

John Porcari: Obviously some powerful points there. One of the things that we should all be looking at is the best practices of where it does work, where the kind of early engagement of the communities, notification, a different process is. I'm not sure there is a perfect example out there but I think all of us should be looking for a better example, and maybe hybrids, combining the best of different ways of doing things. There ought to be best practices. Through this process we ought to be able to engage in some oversight where it's happening. So I invite your participation in all of that.

We're not concluding here, we're actually shifting gears a little bit. Bryna Helfer, our director of public engagement, is going to lead the next discussion session on this. What we'd like to get in overall terms is your continued help and input in this. This is the beginning not the end of a journey. We have an opportunity to do this fundamentally different than we've done it before. None of us actually know where the end point is here and that's actually part of the opportunity because I think together we can reengineer this process in a way that gets to what we're actually trying to do as opposed to a more mechanical, kind of, rote process.

So, let me thank you for your early involvement and your passion, this is something we feel very strongly about in the Obama Administration. We know we can do a better job and we need your help getting there. So, thanks.

Bryna Helfer: Ok, so what I want you to do is we're just gonna, real quickly, from each table just a highlight from your first conversation, that first thirty minutes, one highlight, from your first conversation. Decide on a spokesperson real quick. But just one highlight from your first thirty minutes, not the whole conversation, just one highlight from the first 30 minutes.

Hilton Kelly: Training guidelines for enforcement and compliance of Federal EJ and Title VI transportation policies and guidelines for state organizations and for state legislative lawmakers, so they'll be aware and follow federal guidelines.

Bryna Helfer: Ok, great. First conversation...that first 30 minutes, your experiences around the focus of EJ, on climate change, goods movement...that first conversation. Who wants to highlight.

Audience member: So one of our big highlights was just looking at the impacts of whether it's new highway, transit, ports, for EJ communities jobs access so that this nexus between all the different areas, to the impacts of jobs, access to local hire and development overall, grounded in what's happened in the past.

Bryna Helfer: Ok, great. One highlight, from that first 30 minutes...

Audience member: So, the one that we had is that it's a complex relationship between who the owners of the transportation assets are, it's complicated when you talk about from the highways and the transit perspective, it gets even more complicated when you talk about ports, and pipelines and railroads, and how you bring all those different organizations together and one size does not fit all.

Bryna Helfer:So again your experiences in EJ, and what the impacts are relative to goods movement, passenger rail, climate change, NEPA, jobs...

Audience member: So one highlight, I guess, is connecting all the dots. Seeing how improving public transit in low income communities we even talked a little bit about the differences in needs that the rural communities have but focusing a little bit on urban is increasing public transit will provide more jobs in these communities, will provide folks with access to get to jobs centers, will alleviate some of the climate change burdens and alleviate some of the toxic hotsposts that already exist in environmental justice communities. Leaning a little bit on NEPA and Title VI and framing the issue around equitable transportation access through a civil rights and even broadening it to a human rights analysis.

Bryna Helfer: Anyone else have a highlight from your first 30 minutes? How about the second question in terms of balancing the intent of EJ and those other issues of economic development, jobs, access to transportation. Anyone? How about you guys?

Carolyn Junemann: We're concerned with how do you bring all the entities in to the whole process so while we talked about balancing the goals, and enhancing services, job creation, yada yada yada. We just have a hard time trying to figure out how all the entities can possibly be engaged in this process and how not to have a reaction when the bulldozers show up.

Bryna Helfer: Ok, great. Were gonna go over to this table over here...yes sir?

Hilton Kelly: Yeah we took a look at how do we balance the intent of environmental justice with the goals of enhancing transportation services, job creation, economic development. Well by implementing environmental justice into low income communities that are disadvantaged and have very few services, when you implement the environmental justice component by bringing in public transportation what it's going to is, help to create jobs and thus help to upgrade the economic development of that community because most communities that we're concerned with when it comes to EJ they're at a disadvantage because they don't have a lot of transportation services in those areas and they have very little access to fresh fruit and vegetables, so we have to use that transportation for shopping, and also to getting to our jobs and this will help create jobs and opportunities in our communities.

Bryna Helfer: Ok, super. Anyone wanna add to that first 30 minute conversation about the impact of EJ?

Audience member: So we were looking at a more expansive idea of cost benefits including putting EJ at the center of that. We also talked about the notion of using funds or losing them so you wage an EJ campaign you stop something and then because of the vagaries of federal funding you lose the $500 million for that project that could go into an alternative transportation mode or another infrastructure improvement for that community but because of federal funding rules we're stuck with saying we waged a successful EJ campaign and we lost $500 million investment for our community.

Bryna Helfer: Beth Osborne has joined us, who is our Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and really the lead on EJ for the Department and coordination across the department. So Beth, thanks for being here. We're just kind of sharing what we've been talking about. And I also just wanted to point out that we had two other folks join us that weren't here earlier, one is Warren Whitlock our new Director of Civil Rights for the Federal Highway Administration, I'm sorry, Associate Administrator for Federal Highway Administration Civil Right, and also James Cheatham who is the Director of the Planning office for highway. So, two folks that weren't here earlier.

Anyway, anything else on that first conversation, those first two points? The balancing EJ with other issues or your experiences with the NEPA, jobs, access, freight good movement, climate change...Anything?

Carolynn Junemann: The airports people brought up an interesting issue. Sometimes they have to go into the noise attenuation with the airplanes and everything, but when they go into noise attenuation, what happens is, there's a climate change impact because they're burning more fuel or the emissions that they're producing are increased so that was kind of an interesting perspective of how you balance the climate change impact with the justice impact of trying not to adverse impact on your community.

Bryna Helfer: O, so we're going to move to products and tools and research. Which side of the room wants to go first?

Ok, products and tools... one product or tool that you guys think would be useful, or works really well now?

Audience member: So we were thinking about tools, and tools as sort of an abstract idea and the big thing, I think is sort of, educating the different people out there, and again it's not just the large urbanized areas but it's the the smaller rural urbanized areas which might not have the capacity to know about the tools and the processes, sort of educate them about what others are doing, best practices, in terms of products, case studies, that sort of thing.

Bryna Helfer: Excellent, thank you. How about this group?

Audience member: So we talked a lot about having kind of traditional tools and nontraditional tools, but them be appropriate culturally in terms of demographics, in terms of age cohorts, so having things like podcasts for folks who are more tech savvy and like to download them and put that stuff on their ipod, but also having traditional media and ethnic media especially and even using radio because in a lot of communities radio is still an impactful medium that gets to a lot of the folks who we're trying to get to and they may not dig around on local DOT region 9 website, I know it's a shock to everyone in this room that they're not on the region whatever website every week, I know its hard for us to imagine, but it might be more effective to reach folks in community settings by using traditional forms of media.

Bryna Helfer: Excellent. Ok. How about this table? Tools and products.

Audience member: We basically kind of emphasized the idea of communication, and looked at how the idea would be to have some sort of measurable performance standard behind that, something where community folks as well as government folks can sit back and say did we do this? And it's a Yes or No, very concrete, clearly defined, and if you said yes then great you're doing your job and if no then why not and how do you fix it? And then communicating that down and looking not necessarily at the traditional community leaders to communicate to the public but looking even more local than that and maybe looking at the churches and where people are getting their information because they may not have a television or they may not have a radio.

Bryna Helfer: Ok we're going to switch to research. Research priorities...who's going?

Audience member: Alright we talked about a few different things one is how you tap local knowledge of environmental problems that may have happened in the past that may not have gotten captured in the macroanalyses, so sort of local catalogues of environmental problems.

[In-audible talk at the table]

Then we talked about creating a best practices research, if you have communities that have sort of built up resentment towards the agencies that are doing the solicitation for comments, how do you break down some of those tensions and some of those frustrations that have built up over time? What communities have done that well and how can we share those best practices with others?

Bryna Helfer: Good job. Give Darren a hand; come on you guys, yea, that was good Darren.

Audience member: We talked about there being a lack of participation in some underserved communities and how you can go out and encourage that participation. So there was a thought that there was really some need for some research on how to motivate those underserved populations to participate in the EJ process.

Bryna Helfer: Ok. Excellent. Thank you. Ok, research...Group 3... Art?

Art Guzzetti: Well one area is the impact, good or bad, of the whole environmental impact statement process, and how can we examine the value added, sort of try to not look at it in a negative way but sort of try to maximize the value added, look at things over time, not just now and that could apply to other DOT and community level project decisions – look at the value of that investment over time, not the short-run but the long run and that will work in a less regressive way.

Bryna Helfer: Super. And last research idea?

Audience member: So we talked a little bit about how environmental justice has actually been minimized to just involvement on the government level and how important it is to really have a historical background on what environmental justice really means, right? It is something that was established because there is actual race and class disparities in how the EPA was addressing environmental issues, and so we would like to have the staff that are getting the training and we talked about different research around different training models that could be used, but really having them talk about the history of environmental justice, and not minimizing it. Involvement is great, again, to reiterate, but it's not the only aspect of environmental justice. How do we ensure that the enforcement components are actualized in these cases. Make sure that there are benchmarks and tangible results that are coming out, and so researching best practices around those benchmarks and tangible results that will be alleviating environmental racism. It would be great to think that we live in a post-racial society, but unfortunately, that's not the case yet. But we're striving towards it all here together. And then also additional research in clean tech development so that we're also driving the alternatives and making sure that we're formulating real tangible and transitional plans that are going to improve community health disparities.

Bryna Helfer: Super. Thank you! OK, everybody gets another round of applause. This is great. You all had an amazing list of actions and we're not going to go around the room and ask each of you to capture those, but we have captured everything and we're going to use all of this information along with the information we're receiving in our online dialogues, we've been doing some outreach sessions in targeted communities, we'd love to follow up with some on you on some of that outreach. I'm going to turn it over to Beth and she's going to talk about next steps. I want to thank you guys for your participation, it's been great. Thank you.

Beth Osborne: So I think that it's great that I get to go after the last comment about the history of EJ, because we didn't develop an executive order on environmental justice because everyone was doing such a great job. I think it is important to remember that this came about for a very specific reason and that is because we have a history in our program of, you know, paving over minority neighborhoods. And so we finally decided we were going to do something about that. And some of that history is way in the past and as we've heard some of that history is not so far back. So I want to emphasize this is an opportunity to change the way things are done, and I want to encourage folks to participate in the online dialogue, which I think is a really interesting interactive dialogue –you're not just responding to our documents, you're responding to what other people are saying as well. And so it really is a conversation that can pull in a lot more information than just a normal comment period. I encourage folks to go check out FTA's work, they've got an open docket, they are seeking public input and we would like to work with you on further outreach, particularly if you think that there's a targeted group that really should have some interaction with us. And maybe it's a group that doesn't normally interact with us. One thing I liked about this room is, this was a very different type of group, with a lot of variety in terms of the groups that were represented. The other thing I would say is, while this is an important effort, it's not the entire effort in terms of making sure that we treat all communities as they deserve to be treated. There's a lot that we can do in terms of our internal operations but there's a lot we can't do and it requires everybody to be very much engaged in what we do on reauthorization, in terms of funding for competitive grant programs. One thing that I've discovered is that you can have as many requirements on people as you want and that does not create the outcomes to the extent of a good old fashioned competition. The people who do the best get money and the people who don't, don't. That has an impact on people in the way a checklist never, ever will. So that means one of the things that is part of an EJ response is having competitive grant programs. It seems like it's way far afield from what we've talked about in terms of guidances, but a lot of the game is won or lost if the entire program is a formula grant program. Because then the best you can do is lawsuits and checklists... So I would encourage everybody to try and think well beyond the areas we normally think about, into what it may appear tangential but where it may be more of the battle is won or lost than we like to admit. And we invite you to participate in those conversations – not just in EJ specific documents but in areas where you think we could improve the overall program to the benefit of all communities. So thank you all for being here and spending so much time here. I look forward to working with you in the future.

Updated: 5/4/2016
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