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Environmental justice is concerned with myriad social, cultural, and environmental issues and how those issues affect particular social groups. This guidebook is organized into 13 chapters that address each of the most common issues of concern as environmental justice is related to transportation planning and policy development. We also selected this organization because a common body of knowledge and techniques exists for many of the issues, and many of these techniques can be extended to allow for environmental justice assessment. The methods included in this guidebook, whether simple or complex, commonly or rarely used, produce results that can be readily communicated to decision-makers and to community residents. As the title of this guidebook conveys, the focus here is on explaining approaches, techniques, and methods that will help transportation planning practitioners perform informative environmental justice assessments. As you read this guidebook, however, keep in mind that environmental justice assessment is one of many components necessary to fully integrate environmental justice into the transportation planning process. Equally if not more important are components such as developing comprehensive, agency-wide environmental justice programs and policies and implementing processes that make community participation a cornerstone of the planning process. This introductory chapter provides the background information you need to use the remaining chapters of the guidebook effectively. We begin by providing a definition of environmental justice. This is followed by a discussion of the positive role environmental justice can play in transportation planning and policy development. The types of effects addressed in the guidebook are listed and briefly described, followed by a discussion of the philosophy applied to developing the guidebook. The chapter ends with a discussion of how to use the guidebook and how it is related to other recent publications that address environmental justice. ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE DEFINED To some, environmental justice is a social cause that promotes fairness and equity for all people. To others, it is a set of federal and state policies that must be followed to ensure agency compliance with federal civil rights laws, especially Title VI. Still others may view environmental justice as a possible roadblock to transportation planning and project development that must be overcome in situations when local activist groups use the planning process to promote a specific agenda. In reality, environmental justice involves each of these perspectives to a certain degree. Some common definitions of environmental justice are discussed in the box titled "Perspectives on environmental justice." In this guidebook, environmental justice is defined as "the fair treatment of all people in terms of the distribution of benefits and costs arising from transportation projects, programs, and policies." The term "fair" means that a disproportionate share of adverse effects will not fall upon low-income or minority (protected) populations. A disproportionate share of adverse effects in turn implies that the distribution of benefits to a protected population is not commensurate with the costs that this particular population would bear. It is important to keep in mind that the value of a benefit or the adversity of a cost may vary among population groups. 2

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Therefore, it is necessary to present the expected effects of a transportation change to these populations as accurately and clearly as possible and then to fully consider the perspectives of protected populations when planning, constructing, and operating transportation facilities. Perspectives on environmental justice Environmental justice as a policy. The United States Environmental Protection Agency's definition of environmental justice stresses the concepts of fairness and equity in a regulatory framework: Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies http://www.epa.gov/compliance/environmentaljustice. Environmental justice as a social movement combining concerns of social justice and environmentalism. A definition used by many environmental justice proponents stresses the comprehensive array of environmental justice concerns involving both physical and human environments: Environmental justice is the right to a safe, healthy, productive, and sustainable environment for all, where "environment" is considered in its totality to include the ecological (biological), physical (natural and built), social, political, aesthetic, and economic environments. Environmental justice refers to the conditions in which such a right can be freely exercised, whereby individual and group identities, needs, and dignities are preserved, fulfilled, and respected in a way that provides for self-actualization and personal and community empowerment -- http://coweb.cc.gatech.edu/lcc3308/150. Environmental justice as a call for equal access to the decision making process. Another commonly used definition focuses more on environmental laws and environmental protection, calling for equal justice, equal protection, and equal access to the decision making process: Environmental justice has been defined as the pursuit of equal justice and equal protection under the law for all environmental statutes and regulations without discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and/or socioeconomic status. This concept applies to governmental actions at all levelslocal, state and federalas well as private industry activities -- http://coweb.cc.gatech.edu/lcc3308/190. Common environmental justice concerns Environmental justice can be viewed as a coming together of the social justice movement and the environmental movement to focus on societal issues where there is overlap between the two. Thus, environmental justice is concerned with issues that originally came to national attention through the social justice movement, issues such as fairness and equity, healthy living 3