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Because of these realities, most of the methods in this guidebook were developed with project- level analysis in mind, although this is not to say that policy, program, and longer-range planning efforts are any less important to environmental justice. Many methods that function at the project level can be used to evaluate long-range regional planning efforts. A project in the Atlanta area jointly conducted by FHWA, FTA, the Atlanta Regional Commission, and Georgia DOT is a good example. This project is described in a recent NCHRP report (Cambridge Systematics, Inc. 2002). Understanding common criticisms of existing methods. Many past environmental justice assessment methods have been criticized for various reasons, and the methods in this guidebook were developed with an understanding of these criticisms. Past analyses often failed to consider the severity or magnitude of consequences, the balance between beneficial and adverse effects, and how those effects were distributed among the potentially affected populations. Similarly, many past environmental justice evaluations have tended to rely on traditional environmental and socioeconomic assessment methods to determine "significant" effects and to only consider environmental justice consequences in cases where significant effects have been identified. Although such approaches are valid in certain circumstances, they often fail to consider unique concerns of protected populations and may be theoretically or technically inappropriate. Other criticisms from environmental justice proponents include the following: Using incomplete data or data irrelevant to local environmental justice concerns. Conducting studies and presenting results without obtaining feedback from local communities. Presenting studies in an overly-technical format that is difficult for the layperson to interpret. Failing to consider the differing values and priorities of diverse communities. The methods in this guidebook can be used to structure objective, highly informative environmental justice assessments that can be readily communicated to the general public and to decision-makers. In many cases, especially with several of the technical methods that require Census data, GIS, databases, or statistical analysis, certain criticisms cannot be overcome entirely. Discussions in Chapter 2 and discussions of method limitations throughout the guidebook describe these limitations and ways to address them. RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER RECENT PUBLICATIONS Both NCHRP and FHWA have recently published informative reports that provide environmental justice guidance. In addition, a recent publication has been prepared for local communities and concerned citizens to promote understanding. How this guidebook is related to these other useful documents is described below. NCHRP 8-36(11). A 2002 report titled Technical Methods to Support Analysis of Environmental Justice Issues, prepared for NCHRP Project 8-36(11), provides an inventory of technical approaches that can be used to address environmental justice issues in systems-level planning, 15

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and corridor and sub-area planning (Cambridge Systematics, Inc. 2002). The emphasis of the report was on methods that have been previously applied in transportation planning studies. The Technical Methods report's three main topics are the legal framework for environmental justice (Chapter 3), important findings on the current state of practice and approaches to structuring environmental justice evaluations developed from interviews with numerous agencies (Chapter 4), and a summary of recently applied analytical approaches (Chapter 5). This guidebook is a continuation of the research begun in Project 8-36(11), focusing on modifying existing methods or developing new methods as necessary to evaluate a much broader range of effects. In addition, this guidebook is intended to be a concise reference to a broad environmental justice assessment body of knowledge. Community impact assessment (FHWA). Community impact assessment differs from many traditional impact assessment processes in that it is focused on understanding how transportation system changes affect the quality of life in communities. There are a number of valuable community impact assessment resources including Community Impact Assessment: A Quick Reference for Transportation published by FHWA (1996), and a community impact assessment Web site sponsored by FHWA (2003). The purpose of community impact assessment is squarely aligned with the principles of environmental justice. The methods presented in this guidebook are specific techniques that can be used in the community impact assessment process for developing community profiles and for analyzing impacts. Effective EJ practices (U.S. DOT). The U.S. DOT (2003) has prepared a CD-ROM with examples of effective environmental justice assessment practices. The purpose of the Effective Practices CD-ROM is to provide practical examples relevant to an array of practitioners on how environmental justice has been integrated into transportation programs, policies, plans, and activities. It describes effective practices taken by transportation agencies, community-based organizations, and other grassroots and advocacy organizations to advance the fundamental principles of environmental justice. The CD-ROM can be used in conjunction with the guidebook to make environmental justice a central element of the transportation planning process. NCHRP 45-19 (Report 456). Traditionally, effects assessments have been focused on issues of human health and impacts to the natural environment. Although these issues are extremely important in the context of environmental justice, they do not make up the full spectrum of beneficial and adverse social, economic, and environmental effects that should be considered. NCHRP Report 456, titled Guidebook for Assessing the Social and Economic Effects of Transportation Projects (Forkenbrock and Weisbrod 2001), discusses methods that increase the capabilities of transportation professionals to predict and assess social and economic effects to both transportation system users and other members of society. Many of the methods presented in Report 456 have been extended in this guidebook to allow for environmental justice assessment. 16