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Environmental Equity: Nondiscrimination in TCEQ Processes

An overview of nondiscrimination and the TCEQ's Environmental Equity Program.

The TCEQ is committed to protecting the health of the citizens of Texas and its environment. We address environmental equity (also known as environmental justice) concerns for all Texans, including low-income and minority communities across the state, so that all Texans can fully participate in decision-making processes and enjoy the benefits of our environmental programs.

We do not allow discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, sexual orientation, veteran status, or retaliation in the administration of our programs or activities, as required by federal and state laws and regulations.

View information on how to report a concern about discrimination.

Federal Nondiscrimination Guidance and Laws

The EPA defines environmental justice as:

… 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. This goal will be achieved when everyone enjoys:

  • the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and

  • equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

The TCEQ carries out the federally-mandated responsibilities to enforce several civil rights laws which, together, prohibit discrimination on the basis of: race, color, or national origin (including on the basis of limited-English proficiency); sex; disability; and age by applicants for and recipients of federal financial assistance from EPA. (Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, respectively), as well as the responsibility for enforcing Section 13 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 which prohibits discrimination based on sex under programs or activities receiving financial assistance under the Clean Water Act.

The regulations of 40 CFR Parts 5 and 7, which implement the above-mentioned laws, apply not only to intentional discrimination but also to policies and practices that have a discriminatory effect. See 40 CFR Part 5Exit the TCEQ and 40 CFR Part 7Exit the TCEQ for additional information.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

As a recipient of federal funding, the TCEQ must follow Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964Exit the TCEQ. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in all federally assisted programs. Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 2000D states: “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.”

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

As a recipient of federal funding, the TCEQ must also follow Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973Exit the TCEQ. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals on the basis of their disability. Section 504, 29 U.S.C. § 701 states: “No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 705 (20) of this title, shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service.”

The Age Discrimination Act of 1975

As a recipient of federal funding, the TCEQ must also follow The Age Discrimination Act of 1975Exit the TCEQ. The Age Discrimination Act of 1975 prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. The Age Discrimination Act, 42 U.S.C. § 6102 states: “Pursuant to regulations prescribed under section 6103 of this title, and except as provided by section 6103(b) of this title and section 6103(c) of this title, no person in the United States shall, on the basis of age, be excluded from participation, in be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under, any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

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Section 13 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972

As a recipient of federal funding, the TCEQ must also follow Section 13 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972Exit the TCEQ. Section 13 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. Section 13, 33 U.S.C. § 1251 states: “No person in the United States shall on the ground of sex be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal assistance under this Act. . . .”

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

As a recipient of federal funding, the TCEQ must also follow Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972Exit the TCEQ. Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. Title IX, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . . .”

Executive Order 12898

On Feb. 11, 1994, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations,”Exit the TCEQ directing agencies that receive federal funding to focus attention on the environmental and human health conditions in minority communities and low-income communities. Environmental justice cases commonly use Title VI as a legal basis.

Executive Order 13166

On August 11, 2000, the President signed Executive Order 13166, “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency,”Exit the TCEQ requiring Federal agencies to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to those with limited English proficiency (LEP), and develop and implement a system to provide those services so LEP persons can have meaningful access to them. The Executive Order also requires that the Federal agencies work to ensure that recipients of Federal financial assistance provide meaningful access to their LEP applicants and beneficiaries.

How to Report a Concern About Discrimination

If you believe you have experienced discrimination in the administration of TCEQ’s programs or activities, please direct all complaints to any of the following addresses:

MAIL:
Jim Fernandez
Environmental Equity (MC 105)
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 13087
Austin, TX 78711-3087

EMAIL:
chiefclk@tceq.texas.gov

FAX: 512-239-3311

Please direct questions to 512-239-2566.

Si desea información en español, puede llamar al 512-239-2566.

Please keep in mind that the more specific you are in your allegations, the more it helps us in evaluating your concern.

View the TCEQ’s Grievance Procedure Policy.

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TCEQ Environmental Equity Program Overview

Our Environmental Equity Program aims to:

  • Help Texas residents and neighborhood groups participate in the decision-making and regulatory processes;
  • Serve as your TCEQ contact to address concerns about environmental injustice;
  • Thoroughly consider your concerns and handle them fairly; and
  • Ensure that all people receive equal benefit from environmental regulations and protection.

Public Participation at the TCEQ

We have many ways for you to participate in our decision-making processes, including the following:

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Accommodations at the TCEQ

We offer accommodations, including the following:

  • As stated in each TCEQ commission meeting agenda, persons with disabilities who plan to attend a TCEQ commission meeting (also called an agenda) and who may need aids or services such as interpreters, readers, large print, or braille, must contact the Office of the Chief Clerk at 512-239-3300 at least six work days before the agenda, so that we can make arrangements.
  • As also stated in each TCEQ commission meeting agenda, people who need help from an interpreter along with their oral presentation at a commission meeting must contact the Office of the Chief Clerk at 512-239-3300 at least five work days before the agenda, so that we can make arrangements.
  • All TCEQ commission meetings (agendas) are broadcast over the Internet and can be watched on any computer or mobile device.
  • All of our public notices instruct persons with disabilities who need special accommodations at a public meeting to call the Office of the Chief Clerk at 512-239-3300 or 1-800-RELAY-TX (TDD) at least one week before the meeting.
  • At the TCEQ, we are committed to making our website and all agency documents accessible to all users. See our website accessibility policy.
  • The TCEQ has established rules regarding when public notices should be published and signs should be displayed in multiple languages. We also evaluate on a case-by-case basis whether translators should attend meetings and hearings. (See 30 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §39.405(h)Exit the TCEQ, governing alternative language public notice requirements, and 30 TAC §39.604(e)Exit the TCEQ, 30 TAC §330.57(i)(5)Exit the TCEQ, 30 TAC §330.69(b)(3)Exit the TCEQ, and 30 TAC §326.73(a)(7)Exit the TCEQ, governing alternative language sign-posting requirements.)
  • We often offer Spanish templates and tools. We also offer an English-Spanish glossary Adobe Acrobat PDF Document to make our translations of both general information and regulatory documents consistent.
  • Also, we offer Spanish documents, such as those detailing how to report environmental problems, how to participate in environmental permitting, and how to get environmental program assistance, and we list them online on our Information Available in Spanish and Bilingual Documents pages. We also offer many of our TCEQ publications in Spanish.

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