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Environmental Justice

Updated: Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Safety and mobility are two of the U.S. Department of Transportation's (DOT's) top priorities. Achieving environmental justice is another undeniable mission of the agency.

On February 11, 1994, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12898, "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice (EJ) in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations." The EJ Executive Order requires federal agencies, to the greatest extent practicable, and as permitted by law, to achieve environmental justice by identifying and addressing disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects, including interrelated social and economic effects, of their programs, policies and activities on minority populations and low-income populations.

While the Executive Order was intended to improve the internal management of the executive branch and not to create legal rights by any party against the United States, federal agencies are required to implement its provisions consistent with, and to the extent permitted by, existing law. (Sections 6-608 and 6-609, 59 Fed. Reg. At 7632-33) One of the laws directly implicated by EJ is Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance.

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