Environmental justice


Executive Order 12898, signed by the President on February 11, 1994, directs each federal agency to make environmental justice part of its mission. This is done by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority and low-income populations to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law.

Executive Order 12898 is not a new requirement. It does not create any rights to judicial review for compliance or non compliance. However, it reinforces and builds upon Title VI of the Civil​ Rights Act of 1964​ as amended and other anti-discriminatory laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act. Moreover, the Executive Order requires that affected minority populations and low-income populations are meaningfully involved in the decision-making process.

As a recipient of federal financial assistance, WisDOT works closely with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in implementing the Executive Order and these agencies’ accompany policy directives, which include the DOT Order on Environmental Justice, FHWA order on Environmental Justice and the FTA Circular on Environmental Justice to achieve environmental justice. WisDOT’s actions and decisions are guided by the three fundamental principles of environmental justice, which are:

  • To avoid, minimize or mitigate disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects, including social and economic effects on minority populations and low-income populations
  • To ensure the full and fair participation by all potentially affected communities in the transportation decision-making process
  • To prevent the denial of, reduction of or significant delay in the receipt of benefits by minority and low-income populations

While WisDOT considers environmental justice in its long-range planning activities, the tools and guidance provided below are for the purpose of facilitating environmental justice analyses and documentation at the project level. They are consistent with the environmental evaluation and documentation process required under the National Environmental P​olicy Act (NEPA)​ of 1969 for any transportation project.

Legal requirements

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964​
FHWA - Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Act of 1970 as amended
Executive Order 12898 - federal actions to address environmental justice in minority and low-income populations
Americans with Disabilities Act (see chapters 4 and 10)

FDM references

FDM Chapter 6 public involvement
FDM 25-1-1 socio-economic factors
FDM 25-5-1 impact categories
FDM 25-5-5 impacts on neighborhood and community cohesion 
FDM 25-5-30 relocation impacts 
FDM 25-10-1 impact identification and resource identification
FDM 25-10-5 development of a community profile
FDM 25-15-1 impact evaluation (use of a community profile)
 FDM 25-15-5 adaptation of the community profile to screening worksheets
FDM 25-20-1 impact mitigation

Worksheets/forms, tools and effective practices

Refer to the ​forms and tools page for factor sheets and guidance

FHWA - Environmental Justice in Transportation - effective practices involving environmental justice principles and procedures in transportation decision-making.
Tiering projects for environmental justice consideration - steps and flowchart
Environmental justice matrix
Environmental justice flash cards ​
Identifying and utilizing appropriate tools to measure impacts
Assessing census data, U.S. Census Bureau 

Guidance, tips, and FAQ for impact analyses and documentation


FHWA - DOT Order on environmental justice
FHWA - Order 6640.23A on environmental justice ​- actions to address environmental justice in minority and low-income populations.

FHWA guidebooks and information