Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance -- including transportation. The Environmental Justice (EJ) Orders add that "Federal agencies 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." Compliance with provisions of Title VI and the EJ Orders extend to all transportation investment and planning processes and need to be considered in metropolitan and statewide planning.
Environmental Justice addresses the effects of all programs, policies, and activities on minority and low-income populations. Environmental Justice seeks to:
- Avoid or minimize high and adverse human health, environmental, social and/or economic effects on minority and low-income populations;
- Ensure full and fair participation of all potentially affected communities in the transportation decision-making process; and
- Prevent denial of, reduction in or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority and low-income populations.
In the context of Environmental Justice, disproportionate and adverse effects are defined as unfavorable effects that minority and low-income populations predominately experience. They are typically more severe or greater in magnitude than the adverse effects suffered by non-minority or non low-income populations. The Northwest Piedmont Rural Planning Organization (NWPRPO) will work through compliance goals and planning process goals to conduct population identification, process documentation and benefit/burden assessments in order to identify and avoid disproportionately high and adverse effects on minority and low-income populations.