The goals of the Environmental Equity Program are to:
- Help citizens and neighborhood groups participate in regulatory processes;
- Serve as the agency contact to address allegations of environmental injustice;
- Serve as a link for communications between the community, industries, and the government.
- Thoroughly consider all citizens' concerns and handle them fairly.
Authorizing Actions and Agreements
Since the TCEQ receives federal funding, it must adhere to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in all federally assisted programs. Title VI §2000D states that: No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
The regulations of Title VI apply not only to intentional discrimination but also to policies and practices that have a discriminatory effect. 42 U.S.C. §2000d-1 states that: A recipient shall not use criteria or methods of administering its program which has the effect of subjecting individuals to discrimination because of race, color, national origin, or sex, or have the effect of defeating or substantially impairing accomplishment of the objectives of the program with respect to individuals of a particular race, color, national origin, or sex.
In the spirit of compliance with this regulation, federal programs are evaluating their policies to ensure the elimination of practices that may be neutral on their face but discriminatory in their effect.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA), Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is charged with enforcing Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In carrying out these duties, OCR processes Title VI complaints filed with the EPA, including those with environmental justice concerns.
Executive Order 12898
On February 11, 1994, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12898, "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations," to focus federal attention on the environmental and human health conditions in minority communities and low-income communities. The executive order directs federal agencies to develop, by March 24, 1995, an environmental justice strategy that identifies and addresses disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations. This strategy was published by the EPA in April 1995. Because many of the TCEQ's programs are driven by EPA grant funding, including the Environmental Equity program, the strategy developed by the EPA will affect TCEQ activities relative to environmental equity.
Individuals may raise environmental equity (also known as environmental justice) concerns with TCEQ staff at the following address and phone and fax numbers:
Environmental Equity (MC 105)
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 13087
Austin, TX 78711-3087