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implementing NEPA states that effects to be taken into account include "ecological (such as the effects on natural resources and on the components, structures, and functioning of affected ecosystems), aesthetic, historic, cultural, economic, social, or health" (CEQ 1986). In essence, environmental justice adds a distributive focus to many of the impact analyses already required for transportation projects. ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE AND DISTRIBUTIVE EFFECTS All methods presented in this guidebook have at least one common feature: the ability to estimate distributive effects. Distributive effects are measurable adverse and beneficial outcomes of a transportation plan, program, or project that do not affect all members of a population equally. To evaluate environmental justice, it is necessary to determine distributive effects to protected population groups. The remainder of this section describes how distributive effects can be evaluated and incorporated into a comprehensive environmental justice program. Environmental justice requires fair and equitable processes and outcomes. Most definitions of environmental justice stress the importance of fairness and equity for all persons. This means that the processes used to plan, select, and implement transportation system changes must be inclusive. In an equitable process, protected populations will have equal opportunity to become involved in the planning process, and the needs, values, and concerns of these populations will be fully considered. In a perfect world, fair and equitable processes would be expected to result in fair and equitable outcomes. Outcome equity is therefore an appropriate way to evaluate the environmental justice of distributive effects. In situations where, for example, members of protected populations would receive more of the adverse effects of a transportation planning decision, or a lesser proportion of benefits than other groups, the outcomes of the transportation planning decisions are not equitable and are not environmentally just. Distributive effects assessment methods are a test of outcome equity. The test for outcome equity, then, is to determine how beneficial and adverse effects are distributed among population groups and to determine if those effects are fair and equitable. Performing this test requires three basic steps: 1. Identify the affected population. The affected population is that which would experience the beneficial and adverse effects of a transportation system change. The size of the population and its demographic characteristics need to be determined. Important demographic characteristics for identifying protected populations include race, national origin, age, sex, disability, English-speaking ability, and income. 2. Estimate the nature and extent of the effects. Beneficial and adverse effects should be identified and measured. The measure could simply consider whether effects would or would not result from the transportation system change. A more informative approach would be to measure the magnitude of effect. An example would be developing estimates of ground-level airborne pollutant concentrations from zero parts per billion to 1,000 parts per billion, and how the levels vary across a study area, rather than merely 6
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determining whether concentrations within the study area are above or below a standard of 100 parts per billion. 3. Assess whether the effects are equitable. This requires combining the demographic assessment with the effects assessment to determine how effects are distributed among social groups. Effects can be distributed across space, across social groups, and across time. Examples of spatially distributed effects include air quality, noise, and water quality. Such effects are most often assessed using models or other techniques based on natural and physical properties of the effect. Other types of effects may have a geographic component, but fundamentally they are distributed across social groups. One of the best examples is transportation user effects. For example, lower-income persons often rely more on bus transit whereas middle-income persons often rely more on transportation by personal vehicle. The adverse effects of limiting transit service on weekends can therefore be expected to fall more heavily upon lower-income persons. Any type of effect can be distributed across time. For example, the noise and air quality effects of a new roadway will become greater as traffic volumes increase over time. To assess the temporal distribution of effects, one must develop measures of (a) changes in population characteristics through time and (b) the nature and extent of effects through time, thus making it possible to determine if equity changes over time. There are numerous principles of outcome equity. It is important to note that equitable distributions of adverse and beneficial effects can be defined in many different ways that are appropriate based upon the specifics of the situation. Environmental Justice and Transportation: A Citizen's Handbook (ITS 2003) includes a discussion of commonly applied definitions of outcome equity that are summarized in the box titled "Principles of outcome equity." Principles of outcome equity Equality. Everyone receives an equal share of the net benefits (benefits minus burdens). Ability to pay. Persons are entitled to receive all the benefits they can pay for, assuming they compensate for any burdens incurred by others. Maximum benefit. The greatest benefit for the most people. Serve the least advantaged first. Remedy existing inequalities by focusing on the needs of the disadvantaged. Most of the assessment methods and examples presented in this guidebook apply the equality principle to determine if a transportation policy, program, or project is environmentally just. In most situations, however, it is possible to use the outcome of the equality test to consider if the other forms of outcome equity are being met. The brief hypothetical situation, "Applying outcome equity principles in practice," on the next page provides an example. 7