Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that "No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." In 1994, Executive Order (EO) 12898 "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations' was issued. EO 12898 emphasized a federal agency's responsibility to make environmental justice a goal by identifying and addressing the effects of programs, policies, and activities on minority and low-income populations. This is accomplished by involving the public in developing transportation projects that fit within their communities without sacrificing equity, environmental justice and safety.
Evaluation of Environmental Justice
When collecting data, the following demographics are needed for an Environmental Justice analysis:
- Racial and ethnic minorities
- Elderly (people over 60 years of age)
- Female head of household (with children under the age of 18 present and the absence of a husband)
- Low-income (living below the poverty level)
Information can be gathered from numerous sources such as the Arizona Department of Economic Security and US Census Bureau. Further guidance for the analysis of Title VI and Environmental Justice can be found in Guidance on Title VI and Environmental Justice and Guidelines for Environmental Justice Analysis.
EO 12898 directed every Federal agency to make environmental justice part of its mission. This is addressed during the NEPA process by adequately considering public involvement and identifying and evaluating a range of project alternatives, as well as by identifying, avoiding or minimizing adverse impacts to low-income and minority populations. If there are adverse impacts, mitigation measures will be implemented into project design. When identifying and developing potential mitigation measures, members of the affected communities must be consulted. Strong public involvement facilitates a larger presentation of possible issues and leads to more mitigation measures being analyzed. This will ultimately lead to the most effective mitigation measures being implemented.
Following is a flowchart depicting Title VI and Environmental Justice evaluation process: