Environmental Justice

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The Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to promoting environmental justice in all its activities in keeping with Executive Order (EO) 12898: Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. This EO directs each Federal agency to "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," including tribal populations. 

The Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice Executive Order 12898 advances Federal agency  responsibility under the EO and states that all communities overburdened by pollution - particularly minority, low income and tribal communities - deserve the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, equal access to the Federal decision-making process, and a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

The document, Environmental Justice; Guidance Under the National Environmental Policy Act, prepared by the Council on Environmental Quality  offers  the following six principles for environmental justice analyses to determine any disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects to low-income, minority, and tribal populations.

  1. Consider the composition of the affected area to determine whether low-income, minority or Tribal populations are present and whether there may be disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on these populations.
  2. Consider relevant public health and industry data concerning the potential for multiple exposures or cumulative exposure to human health or environmental hazards in the affected population, as well as historical patterns of exposure to environmental hazards.
  3. Recognize the interrelated cultural, social, occupational, historical, or economic factors that may amplify the natural and physical environmental effects of the proposed action.
  4. Develop effective public participation strategies.
  5. Assure meaningful community representation in the process, beginning at the earliest possible time.
  6. Seek Tribal representation in the process.

Sustainability Support Information Brief describes DOE’s strategy for complying with the EO. More detailed information on that strategy is available at http://energy.gov/lm/services/environmental-justice.