Skagit Council of Governments has developed a demographic profile for Skagit County meeting the requirements of the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for Environmental Justice (EJ). If federal funds are received through FTA or FHWA, EJ principles must be incorporated into proposed programs, policies and activities. Inclusion of these principles prevents disproportionately high and adverse impacts from being borne by minority and low-income populations within Skagit County.
Environmental Justice (EJ) principles protect minority populations and low-income populations from disproportionately adverse effects of programs, policies and activities funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). By accepting federal funds through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA), both operating administrations within the DOT, the Skagit Council of Governments (SCOG) and any recipients of federal funds through SCOG must incorporate Environmental Justice into their programs, policies and activities.
What is Environmental Justice?
As it relates to transportation, EJ is a concept that assures that before decisions are made for programs, policies and activities that use federal transportation funds; the impacts to minority populations and low-income populations are identified and addressed. EJ principles ensure that negative impacts to human health and the environment are not disproportionately borne by these populations.
Who does Environmental Justice apply to?
EJ applies to all recipients of federal funds from FHWA or FTA. It applies to SCOG, as a recipient of these federal funds and it applies to all jurisdictions receiving these funds, through SCOG, for any program, policy or activity.
What Orders apply to Environmental Justice?
In 1994, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12898 directing federal agencies to develop environmental justice strategies that identify and address disproportionately high and adverse effects of programs, policies and activities on minority populations and low-income populations. In response, the DOT issued an order establishing such a strategy and directing its operating administrations to also provide guidance to recipients of federal funds on how EJ must be incorporated into programs, policies and activities. The DOT-FHWA-FTA orders/guidance were first published in 1997 & 1998. New orders were published by DOT-FHWA-FTA in 2012 reaffirming the commitment to EJ and clarifying certain aspects of the original 1997 DOT order. In 2012, the definitions for “minority” populations were modified and the distinction between a Title VI analysis and EJ analysis was clarified. For specific EJ guidance, FHWA published Order 6640.23A and FTA published Circular 4703.1.
How is Environmental Justice implemented?
This demographic profile is an implementation measure for EJ through the collection and analysis of demographic data for minority populations and low-income populations. This profile provides a basis for transportation decision-making in that location and concentration of these populations are identified. After the publication of the profile, other EJ-related activities will include, but not be limited to, public engagement processes reaching EJ populations, and transportation project review under the National Environmental Policy Act.