Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJ IWG)
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
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
EJ IWG Framework for Collaboration
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.
The EJ IWG in Action
In 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. Released 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!
- The EJ IWG hosted a Public Meeting for Tribes and Indigenous Communities to explore how the Federal government can meet its responsibilities and work effectively with tribes and indigenous communities experiencing environmental justice concerns.
- IWG Responses to public comments received at the 2011 Alaska Forum
- The EJ IWG engaged with communities, public health organizations, and state and local governments on federal climate justice initiatives at the 2015 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Climate Justice Conference: Responding to Emerging Health Effects.
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.
- Environmental Protection Agency (Chair)
- Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Department of Commerce (DOC)
- Department of Defense (DoD)
- Department of Education (DofEd)
- Department of Energy (DOE)
- Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- Department of the Interior (DOI)
- Department of Justice (DOJ)
- Department of Labor (DOL)
- Department of Transportation (DOT)
- Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA)
- General Services Administration (GSA)
- Small Business Administration (SBA)
- White House Offices
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:
- Robert Garcia of The City Project: Environmental Justice in Los Angeles, California
- Underserved Community Partnership Program (CUPP): Alternate Transportation for the Selma to Montgomery Trail (SEMO)
- Brownfields to Healthfields: Florida Healthfields Successes
- Community-Based Assessment of Exposure to Substances in the Anacostia River Region
Federal Resources for Environmental Justice
Check out these resources on the EJ IWG, other federal resources for communities.
Resources about the EJ IWG
- Promising Practices for EJ Methodologies in NEPA Reviews
- The Environmental Justice Federal Interagency Directory provides basic information about the role of the federal agencies contained in this publication including their organization chart and key contact information for agency program areas
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.
- Learn more about resources for Creating Healthy, Sustainable, and Equitable Communities
- 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 Factsheet on the EJ IWG's Impacts from Commercial Transportation Committee, which contains valuable important on the partnering agenices and the work that the committee is doing to advance environmental justice in the goods movement-related sector.
- , 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.
Past EJ IWG Initiatives
- 2000: Development of the Integrated Federal Interagency Environmental Justice Action Agenda, which identifies the federal initiatives and resources that were used to help an initial set of 15 environmentally and economically distressed communities.
- 2001: Evaluation of six of the 15 Action Agenda projects to determine the value of using partnerships to address environmental justice issues (See Evaluating the Use of Partnerships to Address Environmental Justice Issues).
- 2002: Publication of the Status Report on Environmental Justice Collaborative Model, which recounts the lessons learned and successful elements of the initial 15 Action Agenda projects. These projects helped define the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Model now being used by EPA.
- 2003: Selection of 15 additional Revitalization Demonstration Projects to showcase collaborative partnerships among federal agencies and other stakeholders in the area of community revitalization and environmental justice.
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.
Community Collaboration to Address Community Based Environmental Justice Problems in Portland, Oregon
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
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
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
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
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.
- Federal Agencies Convening for Environmental Justice: Connecting Communities to Green Space, Healthcare and Jobs
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.
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 National Environmental Justice Conference and Training Program.
Meet the EMI Student Panelists
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 EMI Workshop, then please submit your Project Abstract to Joanna Mounce Stancil (firstname.lastname@example.org). You can learn more about the expectations for the abstracts below.
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:
- 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?
Department of Agriculture
Jeff Knishkowy (email@example.com)
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
Department of the Interior
Department of Commerce
Linda D. Belton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Labor
General Services Administration
Evelyn Britton (email@example.com)
Branch Manager, External Programs Branch
Department of Homeland Security
Lisa D. Quiveors (Lisa.firstname.lastname@example.org )
Sustainability and Environmental Programs
Department of Veterans Affairs
Environmental Protection Agency
Marsha Minter (Minter.email@example.com)
Office of Environmental Justice
Department of Energy
Department of Defense
Department of Education
Andrea Falken (Andrea.Falken@ed.gov)
Director Green Ribbon Schools, Office of Communication and Outreach
Department of Housing and Urban Development
James Potter (James.M.Potter@hud.gov)
Office of Environment and Energy
Department of Transportation
Fleming El-Amin (Fleming.firstname.lastname@example.org)
Federal Highway Administration
Small Business Administration
White House Office
Council on Environmental Quality