Environmental Justice

Committee Documents

  • NACWA's Statement of Principles and Recommended Actions on Environmental Justice: Guiding document for the work of the Environmental Justice Committee that was developed under the direction of NACWA’s Board Task Force on Environmental Justice and approved by the full NACWA Board of Directors.  Sets forth a clear vision and statement about what NACWA’s appropriate role should be with respect to environmental justice.
  • NACWA Environmental Justice Committee 2023 Work Plan: Outlines the tasks to be undertaken by the Committee in 2023.
  • NACWA Board of Directors Letter to NEJAC:  Letter from the NACWA Board to the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) expressing the desire of NACWA’s Environmental Justice Committee to work with the NEJAC to find ways to promote equity and ensure access to reliable and safe clean water service at an affordable cost for all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status.  
  • NACWA Environmental Justice Compendium: 2017 compendium of case studies demonstrating how clean water utilities are addressing environmental justice concerns within their communities and service areas.
  • Powerpoint Presentations at NACWA Events on Environmental Justice
    • Sharise Horne and Andrew Lee (NACWA 2022 Winter Conference) – Providing an overview of the NACWA Environmental Justice Committee’s goals, purposes, and future activities
    • Devon Goodrich (NACWA 2022 Winter Conference) – Overview of equal protection case law and the legal standards relevant to shaping an environmental justice project or program
    • Roger Cooley (NACWA 2022 Winter Conference) – Outline of private sector work with utilities to advance environmental justice objectives
    • Steve Hamai (July 2022 Utility Leadership Conference) – IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation
    • Kishia Powell (Nov. 2022 NACWA Law Seminar) – Outlining EJ initiatives undertaken by utilities in Baltimore, MD; Jackson, MS; Atlanta, GA; and Washington, D.C.
    • Alexandra Dunn (Nov. 2022 NACWA Law Seminar) – Overview of federal environmental justice initiatives at EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice
    • Susan Myers and Brian Stone (Nov. 2022 NACWA Law Seminar) - Outlining environmental justice initiatives related to Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District consent decree negotiations and implementation
    • Jennifer Belknap, Emanual Briggs, and Christine Umerley (Sept. 2023 NACWA Webinar) - Going From Transactional to Relational: Improving Utility Outreach to Environmental Justice Communities


Environmental Justice and Federal Funding

  • Justice40 Initiative – White House goal to ensure that 40 percent of the overall benefits of federal investments in areas including critical clean water and wastewater infrastructure development, climate change, clean energy, and remediation and reduction of legacy pollution flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.
  • Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST 1.0) — White House’s latest version of interactive maps that the federal government intends to use to help ensure disadvantaged communities get at least 40 percent of the benefits of climate and infrastructure investment pursuant to the Justice40 Initiative (see above). The updated tool utilizes an updated methodology and incorporates additional datasets on climate risks, transportation inequities, historic redlining, legacy pollution, lack of indoor plumbing, and lack of access to clean drinking water.  It will be used in assessing projects eligible for programs covered by Justice40, including Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program loans.
  • NACWA Comments on CEJST Beta Version – NACWA comments underscoring anchor role clean water utilities play in protecting the environment and public health, developing resilient critical infrastructure, and advancing environmental justice goals.  Urges CEQ to engage with NACWA’s Environmental Justice Committee as it moves to implement the Justice40 Initiative. 
  • EPA Bipartisan Infrastructure Law State Revolving Fund Implementation Guidance – Provides information on implementation of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) mandate that 49% of Clean Water State Revolving Funds (CWSRFs) be used to benefit disadvantaged communities meeting state affordability criteria or certain project types. Provides additional information to assist states with developing/revising their affordability criteria and definitions of “disadvantaged communities.” 
  • Attorney General Memo on IIJA Implementation and Title VI – Memorandum outlining steps federal agencies can take to ensure that public funds awarded under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Fiscal Year 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act are not being used in a discriminatory manner in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability), Title IX of the Education Amendments Act (prohibiting sex discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and general identity in education programs and activities), and several other program-specific statutes prohibiting discrimination in federally funded programs.
  • NACWA Letter to Administration on IIJA Implementation – NACWA letter encouraging Administration to support definitions of “disadvantaged communities” that balance the needs of rural and underserved areas with more urban and suburban communities that have significant disadvantaged populations.
  • Inflation Reduction Act EJ Block Grants and Other Provisions – Summary of environmental justice-related grants and provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) developed by NACWA Legal Affiliate Baker Botts.
  • Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund – New program under the Clean Air Act created by the Inflation Reduction Act.  Provides competitive grants to mobilize financing and leverage private capital for clean energy and climate projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with an emphasis on projects that benefit low-income and disadvantaged communities. 
  • NACWA Comments on IRA GHG Reduction Fund – NACWA comments urging EPA to prioritize water sector projects and outlining the complexities wastewater utilities face with respect to energy-related projects.

Environmental Justice and Federal Permitting and Enforcement

  • Interim Final Rule Allowing for SEPs – May 2022 interim final rule revoking the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) previous regulations prohibiting the inclusion of supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) in federal settlement agreements.  
  • DOJ Memorandum on Actions to Advance Environmental Justice – May 2022 memo outlining DOJ’s comprehensive environmental justice enforcement strategy (see below); launch of the first-ever Office of Environmental Justice within DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resource Division (ENRD) to support environmental justice investigations and litigation and facilitate community outreach; and issuance of an Interim Final Rule restoring the use of supplemental environmental projects (SEPs) where appropriate (see above). 
  • DOJ Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy – Strategy for DOJ litigators, investigators, and United States Attorneys’ offices nationwide developed by ENRD in coordination with EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA).  Provides roadmap for using DOJ’s civil and criminal enforcement authorities to advance environmental justice through remedies for systemic environmental violations and contaminations and for injury to natural resources in underserved communities. 
  • Interim Environmental Justice & Civil Rights in Permitting FAQ – Q&A document providing information to federal, state, and local environmental permitting programs on integrating environmental justice and civil rights considerations into relevant environmental permitting processes.  Notes that “compliance with the requirements of federal environmental laws with respect to permitting activities and decisions does not necessarily mean [compliance] with federal civil rights laws.”

Environmental Justice Executive Orders

  • E.O. 12898 Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations (1994):  Lays the foundation of EPA’s environmental justice policy. Directs each listed federal agency to "make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations.” Agencies must do this to the “greatest extent practicable and permitted by law.” The Presidential memorandum accompanying E.O. 12898 notes that existing environmental and civil rights statutes provide many opportunities to ensure that all communities and persons live in a safe and healthful environment.
  • E.O. 14008 Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad (2021): Reaffirms the importance of environmental justice and makes explicit that agencies should address “climate-related and other cumulative impacts on disadvantaged communities, as well as the accompanying economic challenges of such impacts.’’ Also establishes a federal policy ‘‘to secure environmental justice and spur economic opportunity for disadvantaged communities that have been historically marginalized and overburdened by pollution and underinvestment in housing, transportation, water and wastewater infrastructure, and health care.’’   
  • E.O. 13985 Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government (2021):  Establishes a whole-of-government equity agenda to address entrenched disparities in laws and policies and to promote equal opportunity for underserved communities that have been denied fair, just, and impartial treatment.

Additional Environmental Justice Resources

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