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Environmental Justice

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What is Environmental Justice?

Environmental Justice (EJ) means identifying and addressing disproportionately high and adverse effects of the agency's programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations to achieve an equitable distribution of benefits and burdens.

Why is Environmental Justice Important?

EJ is important because it helps to ensure full and fair participation by potentially affected communities in every phase of the transportation decision-making process. When this is accomplished, the development, construction, operation and maintenance of transportation projects should reflect an equitable distribution of benefits and burdens. EJ is not a new concept. In 1994, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12898, directing federal agencies, to the greatest extent practicable, to identify and address disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations. In 1997, the Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) issued an Order to address EJ in minority populations and low-income populations to summarize and expand upon the requirements of Executive Order 12898 on EJ.

As a recipient of federal financial assistance, NDOT works closely with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in implementing the Executive Order and these agencies’ accompany policy directives, which include the  the DOT Order on Environmental JusticeFHWA order on Environmental Justice and the FTA Circular on Environmental Justice to achieve environmental justice. NDOT's actions and decisions are guided by the three fundamental principles of environmental justice, which are:

  • To avoid, minimize or mitigate disproportionately high and adverse human health and 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 of or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority and low-income populations

Key Environmental Justice References

Environmental Review Toolkit