Title VI and Environmental Justice

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
  • Age
  • Gender
  • 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)
  • Disabled

Information can be gathered from numerous sources such as the Arizona Department of Economic Security and US Census Bureau.

FHWA Environmental Justice (EJ) Reference Guide:  This reference guide is a resource to help ensure compliance with EJ requirements.  It presents techniques for conducting activities related to EJ: data collection and analysis. It includes a brief history of EJ, an explanation of its relationship to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and a list of definitions.

Executive Order 12898 Environmental Justice: Directed federal agencies to develop environmental justice strategies to help federal agencies address disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs on minority and low-income populations.

Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice and Executive Order 12898:

U.S. Department of Transportation Environmental Justice Order 5610.2(a)

The Department of Transportation (the Department or U.S. DOT) issued an update to Departmental Order 5610.2(a) (Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations). This Order updates the Department's original Environmental Justice Order, which was published April 15, 1997. The Order continues to be a key component of the Department's strategy to promote the principles of environmental justice in all Departmental programs, policies, and activities.

FHWA Order 5610.2(a)

Federal Highway Administration Environmental Justice Order 6640.23A

This FHWA directive establishes policies and procedures for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to use in complying with Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations (EO 12898), dated February 11, 1994. This directive cancels FHWA Order 6640.23 FHWA Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, dated December 2, 1998.

FHWA Order 6640.23A

Executive Order 13166 - Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency

On August 11, 2000, the President signed Executive Order 13166, "Improving Access to FHWA Order 6640.23A Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency". The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to those with limited English proficiency (LEP), and develop and implement a system to provide those services so LEP persons can have meaningful access to them.

Executive Order 13166

Limited English Proficiency Guidance - Enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 - National Origin Discrimination Against Persons With Limited English Proficiency

This LEP Guidance sets forth the compliance standards that recipients of Federal financial assistance must follow to ensure that their programs and activities normally provided in English are accessible to LEP persons and thus do not discriminate on the basis of national origin in violation of Title VI's prohibition against national origin discrimination.

Limited English Proficiency Guidance​

NEPA Process

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.

Title VI and Environmental Justice evaluation process

Flowchart depicting Title VI and Environmental Justice evaluation process