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Environmental Justice

Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG)

Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice The Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG) facilitates the active involvement of all Federal agencies to implement Executive Order 12898, "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations." The order states that "Federal agencies must identify and address, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations."

Established through the Order, the EJ IWG provides a forum for Federal agencies to collectively advance environmental justice principles. The EJ IWG works as a federal family to increase local community capacity to promote and implement innovative and comprehensive solutions to environmental justice issues.

Overview of the EJ IWG

Environmental Justice: What does that mean?"

The EJ IWG facilitates the active involvement of all Federal agencies to implement the Executive Order. The order states that Federal agencies must identify and address, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations.The EJ IWG plays a central role in creating healthy and sustainable communities by bringing together the federal family to address critical environmental justice issues.

Established through the order and requested by communities, the EJ IWG provides a forum for Federal agencies to collectively advance environmental justice principles. The EJ IWG works as a federal family to assist communities in building the capacity to promote and implement innovative and comprehensive solutions to address environmental justice issues.

The EJ IWG is chaired by the EPA Administrator and includes 17 Federal agencies and White House offices with standing committees and other committees established as necessary to carry out responsibilities outlined by the Order. The IWG consists of senior leadership representatives, senior staff representatives, and other persons delegated by an agency.

In 2011, IWG agencies took a landmark step to support environmental justice by adopting a Charter and signing the Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice and Executive Order 12898 (MOU). The MOU served as a formal agreement among Federal agencies to recommit to addressing environmental justice through a more collaborative, comprehensive and efficient process.  It also broadened the EJ IWG to include additional agencies and articulates additional commitments made by member agencies.

The Charter outlines the governance structure and focus areas for the EJ IWG. The Charter was revised in late 2014 and includes the following focus areas for EJ IWG activities:

  • Public Participation
  • Regional Engagement
  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • National Environmental Policy Act
  • Native Americans/Indigenous Peoples
  • Rural Communities Engagement
  • Impacts from Climate Change
  • Impacts from Commercial Transportation (Goods Movement)
  • Strategy and Implementation Progress Reports

Read the Factsheet for the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice.

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EJ IWG Framework for Collaboration

EJ IWG Framework for Collaboration, FY 2016 - 2018

The EJ IWG plays a central role in creating healthy and sustainable communities by bringing together the federal family to address critical environmental justice issues.

The Framework for Collaboration seeks to advance greater federal agency collaboration to improve the quality of life and to expand economic opportunity in overburdened and under-resourced communities.

The overarching purpose of this three-year framework is to strengthen a cohesive and comprehensive federal approach to improve the health and sustainability of those communities who need the most assistance.

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The EJ IWG in Action

A meeting in progressIn May 2015, EJ IWG Senior Leadership met at the White House Executive Building to launch a transformative approach to making a visible difference in communities.  Led by EPA, the federal family strengthened a cohesive and comprehensive federal approach to improve the health and sustainability of communities.

To continue building the federal environmental justice infrastructure, the EJ IWG will focus on the importance of environmental justice training, connecting with communities, and better aligning federal investments. 

Read more about new initiatives:

Educate, Motivate, Innovate Climate Justice Initiative.  Cover of Fact Sheet Actions to Build Resilience to Climate Change Impacts in Vunerable CommunitiesReleased in June 2015 by the White House, Office of the Press Secretary, the EJ IWG was highlighted in the Obama Administration Announcement of Actions to Protect Communities from the Health Impacts of Climate Change at the White House Summit.

The EJ IWG announced the creation of a new subcommittee on climate change impacts.  The subcommittee focuses attention on the needs of vulnerable populations, particularly those related to resilience and adaptation. The subcommittee supports federal conversations and actions on climate change which are informed by and responsive to the needs of communities with environmental justice concerns.  The committee will work to ensure that the knowledge, data, tools, and other resources currently being generated across the Federal government are reaching those populations. 

As an initial step, the workgroup is launching Phase 1 of the EJ IWG EMI Climate Justice Initiative. The EMI Climate Justice Initiative will use a variety of tools to focus on incorporating equity into climate adaptation planning and implementation.  The initiative will also focus on the next generation of climate justice leaders and expand partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions, including outreach to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Tribal Colleges and Universities.

More Stories about the EJ IWG in Action!

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Federal Agency EJ Strategies & Annual Implementation Progress Reports

Each Federal Agency on the EJ IWG has an Environmental Justice Strategy that describes a plan to integrate environmental justice into programs, policies, and activities. These strategies provide a roadmap to implement plans for setting measurable and achievable goals.

To track strategy accomplishments, each Federal Agency on the EJ IWG creates Annual Implementation Progress Reports. These reports provide major milestones accomplished for each fiscal year as well as facilitate agency assessment to continue to develop methods and mechanism to continue to strengthen environmental justice efforts.

Learn more about federal environmental justice activities by exploring Agency Environmental Justice Strategies and Annual Implementation Progress Reports. Below is a list of the EJ IWG member agencies and links to their environmental justice websites. For EPA's strategy and progress report, please refer to EJ 2020.

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EJ IWG Community Spotlight

The EJ IWG builds interagency collaboration by highlighting interagency environmental justice projects in a presentation series called the Community Spot Light. Through these presentations, the EJ IWG learns about best practices, understands challenges, and explore opportunities to build comprehensive solutions to environmental justice issues.

Take a look at the EJ IWG Community Spotlight presentation series:

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Federal Resources for Environmental Justice

Check out these resources on the EJ IWG, other federal resources for communities.

Resources about the EJ IWG

Federal Agency Resources for Communities

  • Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a HUD, DOT, and EPAcollaboration that supports communities' efforts to expand housing and transportation choices, protect air and water, attract economic growth, and provide the type of development residents want.
  • The Community-Based Federal Environmental Justice Guide includes programs within agencies that may assist communities in reducing toxic exposures. The program may provide technical assistance, federal funding or a combination of both technical assistance and federal funding. Through this and other efforts, federal agencies are recommitting to improving the health and sustainability of communities across America.
  • Protection of Sacred Sites is a compendium prepared by the EJ IWG Native American Task Force containing federal memorandum, policies, executive orders, guidance, and statutes on Native American sacred places and cultural properties. The compendium identifies the tools which can be used to protect these resources.
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) EJ Resource Compendium – a compendium created by EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and the EJ IWG NEPA Committee that gathers publically available information from Federal Agencies on the intersection of environmental justice and NEPA into one place. 
    • Learn more about NEPA.
  • The EJ IWG Goods Movement Federal Resource Compendium, created by the EJ IWG’s Impacts from Commercial Transportation Committee, contains federal memorandums, policies, executive orders, guidance, and statues on goods movement-related programs and resources. The compendium identifies the tools which can be used to mitigate externalities related to goods movement. 

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Past EJ IWG Initiatives

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EJ IWG Webinars

The EJ IWG is hosting the Access & Awareness Webinar Series, a monthly event, to provide public access to the working group and to increase community awareness of federal agency environmental justice strategies and holistic community-based solutions to address environmental justice issues. This series will help the public gain a deeper understanding of how federal agencies are collaborating and what resources are available to anyone interested in improving the health, quality-of-life, and economic opportunities in overburdened communities.

Past webinars

Community Collaboration to Address Community Based Environmental Justice Problems in Portland, Oregon

Date: 05/31/2017
This webinar focuses on the community-based collaborations and partnerships formed to identify opportunities, barriers, and resources, as well as implementable projects, to serve local communities in Portland, Oregon.

Women's History Month: Women's Role in the Fight for Environmental Justice

Date: 03/22/2017
This webinar highlights pioneering women who helped establish environmental justice within the EPA and provides a framework for understanding some of that challenges that women face in the context of environmental justice.

Whole Community Disaster Planning: Inclusive Approaches to Recovery and Preparedness

Date: 02/09/2017
This webinar highlights efforts that support and strengthen community leaders, networks, and assets that can be leveraged to improve resiliency, public health, and community access to information and resources.

Discrimination Protections and Promising Practices in Federally Assisted Emergency Management

Date: 01/12/2017
This webinar discusses new guidelines and resources to protect against discrimination and promote the inclusion of all vulnerable communities in federally assisted emergency management and related activities.

Brownfields to Healthfields: Championing the Triple Bottom Line (Health, Environment and Economy) for Community Infrastructure

Date: 12/8/2016
This webinar will share an inventive strategy that advances health, economic and environmental vitality in overburdened and underserved populations, with a special focus on rural communities.

Federal Agencies Convening for Environmental Justice: Connecting Communities to Green Space, Healthcare and Jobs

The first webinar of the series, “Federal Agencies Convening for Environmental Justice: Connecting Communities to Green Space, Healthcare and Jobs” provided an introduction to the Environmental Justice Interagency Working Group and highlighted three innovative federal projects that integrate EJ principles and target underserved, overburdened communities. Presentations from the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Labor and the Department of the Interior, National Parks Service.

Working Together: Lessons Learned from Collaboration for Community Revitalization

This webinar focuses on sharing strategies to address the challenges of interagency collaboration for brownfields redevelopment. Viewers will gain a better understanding of collaboration mechanisms that bring together various stakeholders including community-based organizations, federal, state, and local agencies.

Increasing Awareness of Federal Grants and Resource Opportunities

This webinar provides an overview of the Grants.gov registration process, how environmental justice stakeholders can search for funding opportunities and how to apply for those opportunities using Grants.gov. The webinar also highlights grant opportunities for communities available from the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency.

From Home to School and Back Again: Creating Safe and Healthy Environments for Children

For Children’s Health Month, the EJ IWG’s Access and Awareness Webinar series is working to raise awareness of technical assistance and federal resources that support children’s environmental health in vulnerable communities. This webinar will highlight national and regional initiatives to protect children including the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children from HHS, EPA initiatives to address childhood lead exposure in the Great Lakes Region and the Safe Routes to Schools Program from the DOT.

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Educate Motivate Innovate (EMI) Climate Justice Initiative

The Educate Motivate Innovate (EMI) Climate Justice Initiative strives to engage the next generation of climate justice leaders and expand partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions by offering an opportunity for climate justice leaders to present their work at the EMI Workshop during the 2018 National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program.

This is a chance for our next generation of climate justice leaders to engage with environmental elders and activists as well as influential members of academia, government and non-governmental organizations.

If you are interested in participating in the 2018 EMI Workshop, then please submit your Project Abstract to Joanna Mounce Stancil (joannastancil@fs.fed.us). You can learn more about the expectations for the abstracts below.

Submission Deadline: December 15, 2017 at 11:00PM (EST)
Notification of Acceptance: January 16, 2018

What is the Educate Motivate Innovate (EMI) Initiative?

This national initiative showcases student projects that address the relationship between climate change and its impacts on minority, American Indian Tribes and Alaska Natives, and vulnerable and underserved communities. EMI is a working group comprised of representatives from different federal agencies.

Who is eligible to participate?

The EMI Call for Student Climate Justice Abstracts is open to undergraduate and graduate students attending Minority-Serving Institutions, including: Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions.

While each MSI may submit more than one abstract, we will not accept more than one abstract from any given institution. A maximum of five student abstracts will be accepted.

Is travel involved?

Yes, selected students will travel to Washington, D.C. to present their abstracts during the EMI Workshop, which will be held in conjunction with the 2017 National Environmental Justice Conference (NEJC) and Training Program. The NEJC will be held April 25 through 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. 

Submitting a Student Climate Justice Abstract


Are there specific topic areas that should be addressed in an abstract?

The EMI encourages students to develop projects that explore climate change in relationship to public health disparities, cultural and traditional practices, economic development, and environmental justice (EJ) communities.

What should be included in my abstract?

Abstract submissions should not exceed two pages double-spaced. Selected students will have approximately 20 minutes to present their work during the EMI workshop.

All abstracts should include:

  • Title
  • Student and professor contact information
  • Project statement to include discovery questions or issues being addressed
  • Project type – for example: survey, community field project, development of new tools or resources, etc.
  • Structured of your presentation at the workshop – for example: power point, demonstration, video, etc.
  • Name of the targeted environmental justice community, issues faced, and their level of involvement
  • How does this project relate to climate justice?
  • What are the benefits of this project to the environmental justice community at large?
  • What tools, methods, and resources, including those developed or offered by the federal government, were used during the project?
  • What progress, findings, results, or accomplishments have you witnessed to date?
  • If this is an ongoing project, then what is the next phase or steps of the project?
  • What challenges and/or lessons were learned from the project?

How will the abstracts be evaluated?

Abstracts will be evaluated by:

  • Relevance of abstracts to topic area;
  • Originality of project or research question; and
  • Wider significance for advancing climate justice efforts.

How do I get additional information?

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Contacts

Department of Agriculture

Carmel Walters (carmeliwalters@fs.fed.us)
USDA EJ Coordinator, US Forest Service Minerals and Geology Management
202-280-8211

Department of the Interior

Cheryl L. Kelly (cheryl_kelly@ios.doi.gov)
Environmental Justice Coordinator
Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance
202.208.7565

Department of Commerce

Nathaniel H. Keller (nkeller@doc.gov)
Attorney-Advisor
Office of the General Counsel

Linda D. Belton (lbelton@doc.gov)
National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Associate Director
Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs
202.482.5447

1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230

Department of Health and Human Services

Sandra N. Howard (Sandra.Howard@hhs.gov)
Senior Environmental Health Advisor
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health

Department of Labor

Stephanie Swirsky (Stephanie.Swirsky@dol.gov)

Senior Policy Advisor
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy
202.693.5080

Lisa Stuart (Stuart.Lisa@dol.gov)
Economist
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy
202.693.4968

General Services Administration

Dennis Oden (dennis.oden@gsa.gov)
Director, Civil Rights Division
Office of Civil Rights
202.417.5711

Evelyn Britton (evelyn.britton@gsa.gov)
Branch Manager, External Programs Branch
202.501.0767

Department of Justice

Cynthia M. Ferguson (Cynthia.Ferguson@usdoj.gov)
Senior Litigation Counsel for Environmental Justice
Environment and Natural Resources Division
202.616.6560

P.O. Box 7611
Ben Franklin Station
Washington, DC 20044-7611

Daria Neal (Daria.Neal@usdoj.gov)
Deputy Chief, Federal Coordination and Compliance Section
Civil Rights Division
202.305.3346

Office NWB 828
1800 G Street
Washington, DC 20006

Department of Homeland Security

Amy Vance (amy.vance@hq.dhs.gov)
Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
202.357.7768

Lisa D. Quiveors (Lisa.quiveors@hq.dhs.gov )
Sustainability and Environmental Programs
202.407.2951

Department of Veterans Affairs

Ed Bradley (ed.bradley@va.gov)
Deputy Director
Office of Asset Enterprise Management
202.461.7778

Catherine Johnson (Catherine.johnson7@va.gov)
Program Analyst
Office of Asset Enterprise Management
202.632.7081

Environmental Protection Agency

Marsha Minter (Minter.marsha@epa.gov)
Associate Director
Office of Environmental Justice
202.566.0215

Department of Energy

Melinda Downing
Environmental Justice Program Manager
Office of Legacy Management
202.586.7703

Department of Defense

Joe Sarcinella (Andrew.j.sarcinella.civ@mail.mil)
Sr. Advisor & Liaison for Native American Affairs
751-372-6890

Department of Education

Andrea Falken (Andrea.Falken@ed.gov)
Director Green Ribbon Schools, Office of Communication and Outreach
202-205-0708

Department of Housing and Urban Development

James Potter (James.M.Potter@hud.gov)
Office of Environment and Energy
202-402-4610

Department of Transportation

Fleming El-Amin (Fleming.el-amin@dot.gov)
FHWA
202-366-2064

Small Business Administration

Christopher Upperman (Christopher.upperman@sba.gov)
Advisor, Office of Entrepreneurial Development
202-205-7530

White House Office: Council on Environmental Quality

Erin Shew (Erin_k_shew@ceq.eop.gov)
202-456-3270