Environmental Justice & Limited English Proficiency
“Environmental justice” refers to the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, income, national origin, or educational level, with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
The environmental justice movement emerged in the 1980’s when multiple research studies sharing evidence of pervasive patterns of inequitable exposure of communities of color to environmental harms gained national attention and activists were mobilized to seek corrective action. The disproportionate burdens borne by low-income minority populations were recognized to have been largely established through the structural institutions of discriminatory practices now known as systemic racism.
Practices such as segregation through racially restrictive neighborhood covenants; denial of financial services and investment in “redlined” minority neighborhoods; siting of major highways and polluting industries in communities of color all established persistent environmental conditions for wide disparities in health outcomes and access to opportunity for generations of Americans.
Executive Order 12898: Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority and Low-Income Populations (click arrow to expand)
In 1994, the environmental justice movement led to the enactment of Executive Order 12898, which requires each Federal agency, “to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law”, to “make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations in the United States.”
As with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin for all programs or activities receiving federal funding, the requirements of Executive Order 12898 apply to the transportation planning and programming activities of Metropolitan Planning Organizations through their relationship to the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration.
Executive Order 13985: Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government (click arrow to expand)
In 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 13985, reaffirming and expanding on environmental justice commitments to embed principles, policies, and approaches to the advancement of equity for underserved communities into the work of all federal agencies.
“For purposes of this order: (a) The term ‘equity’ means the consistent and systematic fair, just, and impartial treatment of all individuals, including individuals who belong to underserved communities that have been denied such treatment, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.”
In response, the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2022 published an Equity Action Plan that includes the following goals for Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs):
- Increase the number of MPOs officially adopting a quantitative Equity Screening component to the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) development processes to incorporate community vision and need in project selection and design.
- Increase the number of meaningful and representative public participation engagements held by MPOs in the development of TIPs in urban and rural communities.
To continue addressing the historical legacy of disparities in how communities of color and low-income populations have been affected by government actions, including transportation planning decisions, the MRMPO is committed to the following:
- Providing meaningful opportunities for public engagement with members of low-income and minority populations during the planning and development of programs, policies, and activities (including identification of potential effects, alternatives, and mitigation measures).
- Providing access to public information concerning the human health or environmental impacts of programs, policies, and activities on low-income and minority populations.
- Including explicit consideration of the effects of potential future regional transportation system planning scenarios on low-income and minority populations.
Limited English Proficiency
The Mid-Region Metropolitan Planning Organization is committed to providing information in languages other than English and in accessible formats for persons with disabilities. To see an automated translation of any page on this website, see the “Select Language” dropdown menu at the bottom left of the screen. To request translation services or a translated document, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.