In 1994, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. The Executive Order focused attention on Title VI by providing that "each Federal agency shall 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 support of Executive Order 12898, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an Order on Environmental Justice (DOT Order 5610.2) in 1997, followed by a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Order on Environmental Justice (FHWA Order 6640.23) in 1998.
Over the years, U.S. DOT and FHWA have encouraged a proactive approach to the implementation of Title VI, aimed at preventing discrimination in its programs, policies, and activities. This proactive approach can reduce conflicts and also reinforce compliance with other related requirements; such as, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, 23 U.S.C. 109(h) (which addresses social and economic impacts), and public involvement in statewide and metropolitan planning and project development. By being proactive, Federal, State, local, and tribal agencies can better serve all of the public, who rely on transportation systems and services to enhance their quality of life.
There are three fundamental Environmental Justice principles:
- To avoid, minimize, or mitigate disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects, including social and economic effects, on minority populations and low-income populations.
- To ensure the full and fair participation by all potentially affected communities in the transportation decision-making process.
- To prevent the denial of, reduction in, or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority populations and low-income population
Presidential Executive Order 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations (February 1994)