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USING THE GUIDEBOOK The guidebook is organized by general types of effects. We selected this structure because it is the most logical way to present methods for issues such as visual quality, transportation safety, and noise that have their own specific techniques. Whether you are evaluating a regional investment plan, a statewide transportation policy, or a specific transportation corridor or project alternatives, you should structure the environmental justice assessment around the following questions: · What types of effects should be analyzed? · What are the appropriate methods for each effect given the problem at hand? · What is the appropriate time horizon? Once you have general answers to the first question, you can refer to the chapters that address the effects you've selected and evaluate the available methods. Each chapter includes sections that discuss these general topics: · Overview. An introduction to the chapter discussing the effect or effects being addressed and why those effects could have environmental justice implications. · State of the practice. The state of practice for evaluating the effects and for evaluating environmental justice. · Selecting an appropriate method of analysis. Guidance on situations in which the various methods are appropriate to use. For more information, see the discussion on "Identifying Appropriate Methods" below. · Methods. Each method or technique is discussed in detail. For more information, see our discussion on "Identifying appropriate methods" below. · Resources. We cite articles, books, and Internet sources that are especially helpful if further information is desired. Many of the resources also are cited as references within the chapter. · References. A list of additional articles, books, and Internet sources cited in the chapter. This guidebook also contains four appendices and a glossary. Appendix A contains a summary of important environmental justice statutes and regulations. Appendix B presents a summary of important environmental justice case law. Appendix C provides information on geographic information systems (GIS) that is mentioned in various guidebook chapters but not discussed in detail. Finally, Appendix D provides information on use of current U.S. Census data products. Choosing effects to consider for analysis. The types of effects to evaluate for environmental justice will vary depending on the specific circumstances of the policy, program, or project at hand; the level of local sensitivity to environmental justice issues; and the planning context within which the problem is being addressed. As part of the community planning process, techniques can be used to identify effects of greatest concern to local residents and to inform residents about the effects identified from engineering, environmental, and planning studies. 12
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If the analysis is performed as part of a statewide or regional planning process, federal and local agency policy will dictate the types of effects that should be addressed. In this context, most issues will be related to questions of resource distribution and determining whether plans meet the long-term needs of all populations within the planning area. If the environmental justice evaluation is performed as part of an environmental assessment (EA) or environmental impact statement (EIS), the type of project and applicable state and federal regulations will dictate the types of effects to be assessed. In all situations, it is important to prioritize effects. Prioritization can be based on factors such as level of public concern and potential consequences. More advanced methods should be used to evaluate effects in cases where public concern is high or the consequences could be substantial. More basic methods can be used to evaluate effects where less substantial consequences can be expected or public concern is not as great. Identifying appropriate methods. Each chapter of this guidebook includes a table that summarizes criteria to use in selecting an appropriate method of analysis. The table can be used as a concise list of the methods discussed in the chapter and can be quickly reviewed to identify specific methods to read about in more detail. Within the discussion for each method, further information is provided to help you understand appropriate uses. The criteria listed in the tables and their definitions are below: · Assessment level. Screening assessment/initial review or detailed analysis. · Appropriate uses. Regional plans, investment plans, system assessment, corridor studies, project level studies. · Use when. Brief description of types of issues that can be evaluated. · Data needs. There are three levels of data needs: Low - Data are readily available and processing demands are minor. Medium - Data are generally available, must budget for acquisition/processing costs. High - Data may be costly to acquire, processing requirements may be extensive. · Expertise required. Listing of types of expertise needed to perform the assessment. To the fullest extent possible, we have included methods in each chapter that vary in sophistication and complexity. As a general principle, you should use the least complex method that is sufficient for the problem at hand. The most complex methods should be reserved for cases when the potential impact is likely to be relatively major and when the affected population regards the impact as particularly important. Once you select from the table a specific method to review, you can turn to the section that discusses that method in detail. Presentation of each method is similar, and includes a discussion of the following topics: · When to use. A description of the types of situations in which this method provides informative results and for which it should be considered. 13
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· Analysis. A concise discussion of the various techniques that can be used to apply the method or the sequence of steps required to carry out the method. · Data needs, assumptions, and limitations. As appropriate to the specific method, this discussion presents the data required to perform the analysis, the types of expertise required to perform the analysis, and limitations of the technique that must be considered. · Results and their presentation. Simple examples of results obtained from the method and ways in which the results can be prepared for presentation to the general public and to decision makers. · Assessment. A final overview summarizing the most important points made about the method in the previous discussion. Selecting the proper time horizon. The planning process is organized into a series of disciplines, each with different objectives and time horizons. It is important to consider environmental justice within each planning discipline. The process begins with long-range statewide and regional transportation plans that are updated on a regular basis to reflect changing needs and priorities. At the other end of the planning process are studies to define and select specific projects. Policies and programs developed by federal, state, and metropolitan transportation agencies govern this process. Environmental justice is achieved by ensuring that policies and programs are fair and that all citizens have access to the planning process. Policies can also have direct effects on outcomes. One example is a policy implemented in California to reduce air pollution by retrofitting diesel engines. This policy has a distributive effect in part because large diesel-operated vehicles travel predominantly on freeways and major arterials that tend to have a large proportion of protected populations nearby. Many of the methods in this guidebook are suitable to evaluating such policies. Studies with a long time horizon should consider how population characteristics might change within the plan's time span. Population projection may also be useful to predict future demographic changes in areas affected by specific projects. Practitioners must be aware that population projection is an extremely inexact science and should expect that population trends will need to be updated regularly. In general, the complexity of analysis and level of detail required will be greater for project planning and corridor studies than for long-range transportation plans and investment plans. This is in part because of the nature of the problem--because projects are specific, their effects can be more precisely predicted, and they generally affect smaller areas and smaller numbers of users. In contrast, long-range plans usually are less fine-grained in nature and therefore tend to rely on more generalized information. Also, the greatest level of public concern is usually expressed at the project-planning level because the effects of the decision will be experienced in the short term. That said, it must be kept in mind that long-range transportation plans can have great potential to improve or worsen the circumstances facing protected populations, so environmental justice definitely is highly relevant to these plans, as well. 14