Not in My Backyard: Executive Order 12,898 and Title VI as Tools for Achieving Environmental Justice

Chapter 6

Data Collection and Technical Assistance

A 1987 report by the United Church of Christ’s Commission on Racial Justice identified tools that can improve how communities respond to environmental problems. The report identified access to information, including data and scientific research, as particularly critical for communities disproportionately and adversely affected by environmental decision-making.[1] The Commission on Racial Justice, citing another study released near the time of its report on toxic waste and the role of race, reported that out of 110 community groups “nearly nine out of every 10 groups (88 percent) perceived obstacles to obtaining information. Almost half (45 percent) claimed that government agencies blocked their learning process.”[2] The Commission on Racial Justice also reported that “institutional resistance to providing information is likely to be greater when agencies are confronted by groups, such as those among racial and ethnic communities and the poor, who are perceived to wield less political clout.”[3]  

These 1987 findings of the Commission on Racial Justice were reaffirmed before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights during its 2002 environmental justice hearings. As noted previously, minority and low-income communities are still home to a disproportionate number of hazardous and polluting facilities.[4] This burden is related to the political disempowerment of these communities, and the burden can be exacerbated by lack of access to information critical to participating in the decision-making process and protecting human health. For example, to establish that they are disproportionately burdened and that their health is at greater risk, communities must have access to information on siting and permitting decision-making processes; demographic and socioeconomic data; and information on the location and concentration of hazardous waste sites, landfills, incinerators, and other facilities in communities of color compared with similarly situated white communities. Most importantly, communities need information on the types of and risks associated with various chemicals, wastes, and emissions.[5]  

Executive Order 12,898 realizes the importance of gathering data and conducting research to identify and address the disproportionately high and adverse human health, environmental, social, and economic effects of federal agency programs and policies on minority and low-income communities.[6] Unfortunately, there is insufficient literature on the causal relationship between environmental decision-making and health, economic, and social effects.[7] A 1999 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report found insufficient data exists for examining the relationships among the environmental, racial, ethnic, and other socioeconomic determinants of adverse health outcomes.[8] This lack of data should not, however, lead to an assumption that there is no relationship between these factors.[9] Instead, IOM’s conclusions highlight a need for more research clarifying these relationships.[10] Clearly, improving data collection and analysis is an important process in accomplishing environmental justice.

This need for research clarification is acknowledged in EPA’s Draft Report on the Environment 2003. The report found a lack of national data on the relationship between changes in environmental resources (air, water, and land resources), the stresses placed on these resources by pollutants and contaminants, and the resulting effects on human health and the environment.[11] It is encouraging that the report calls for more data designed to determine the role of environmental factors, the role of genetic and behavioral factors, and the interaction of all these factors on human health.[12] The report also calls for more research in the area of “combined (additive), synergistic, and cumulative effects of numerous pollutants in the environment” on human health.[13] This is an important step forward for minority and low-income communities because they are most often exposed to multiple pollutants from multiple sources.

Like the reports by EPA and the Institute of Medicine, environmental justice advocates and communities also see the need for additional scientific research and data collection on the connection between environmental pollutants and human health. Like IOM, environmental justice advocates and community groups seek more specific research on the human health risks associated with landfills, hazardous waste sites, incinerators, odors, noise, lead-based paint, and other hazards concentrated in their homes and neighborhoods. They also need data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, income, gender, age, and geographic location. 

Access to data related to distributional issues and health risks, as well as community participation in research and data collection, will result in minority and low-income communities being better educated about environmental justice issues. With this information, these communities can actively participate in the environmental decision-making process and be better prepared to challenge decisions that harm their health and quality of life.

This chapter explores the need for scientific research and data collection on the relationship between the levels and types of exposures and health risks faced by the poor and people of color, the availability and use of technical assistance by minority and low-income communities, to what extent communities are provided translation of scientific and technical data, and whether community groups play a participatory role in research and data collection. 

Scientific Research on Exposures, Health Risks, and Outcomes

According to Dr. John Groopman, program director and chairman of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences Toxicological Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, researchers can assist environmental and community advocates by identifying the full spectrum of exposures, in addition to being familiar with health outcomes.[14] In addition to needing to identify what communities are exposed to, the Environmental Equity Workgroup, established by the Environmental Protection Agency in response to growing demands for environmental justice, concluded in 1992 that there was a lack of data on environmental health effects disaggregated by race and income.[15] This lack of data remains a problem today, as noted in EPA’s Draft Report on the Environment 2003.[16] EPA acknowledges in this report that it is challenged to improve how to collect and analyze data.[17]

Not only should research and data collection be undertaken to firmly establish the causal relationship between environmental contamination and adverse human health, this information is needed to create better public health policies in response to environmental conditions and to document distributional issues.[18] Clearly, then, there is a role for environmental health sciences in seeking and obtaining environmental justice. As noted by the Institute of Medicine, “[e]nvironmental health sciences research can contribute to environmental justice most effectively by identifying hazards to human health, evaluating the adverse health effects, and developing interventions to reduce or prevent risks for all members of society.”[19]

While researchers and environmental advocates seek more research, critics of the environmental justice movement attack existing research that finds poorer health status outcomes correspond to race, income, and exposure to environmental hazards. The critics assert that the research is tainted by politics or by the involvement of community groups and environmental organizations. Researchers say these assertions are unsubstantiated.[20] Any scientific study that has withstood an appropriate peer review process is inherently shielded from the effect of bias.[21] According to Patricia Hynes, a professor at Boston University School of Public Health, sound research methods, statistics, and studies are employed when conducting legitimate research, and peer review of the research methods and findings is used to determine the objectivity of the research and the subjectivity of the researcher.[22] During peer review, the researcher in question is commonly asked about his or her personal belief system and values, since all individuals inherently have a philosophical belief system.[23] This peer review process ensures that scientific research is not tainted by personal beliefs.

Dr. Groopman concurs. Researchers would be more concerned about the misuse of scientific data if federal research funding requirements did not require that research be published in peer review literature.[24] The peer review process identifies any questionable research.[25] Accordingly, any criticism that scientific research is tainted by politics or community involvement is unfounded.[26]  

In addition to the need for general causation research, there is the need to conduct significant new scientific research on risks associated with multiple exposures and cumulative impact.[27] The reason this analysis is so vital is because “poor people are more likely than others to have multiple exposures to environmental dangers, facing more severe hazards on the job, in the home, in the air they breathe, in the water they drink, and in the food they eat.”[28] Multiple exposures also result from the placement of many industries adjacent to populated areas, which is allowed by mixed land-use practices and zoning practices.[29] According to Dr. Robert Bullard with the Environmental Justice Resource Center, “environmental analysts should be able to assess not only the impacts of a proposed facility, but also the impact of the proposed action when added to other past and existing environmental and health hazards. This type of analysis goes to the heart of assessing cumulative impacts.”[30] Richard Lazarus, a professor of law at Georgetown University School of Law, also notes that “most environmental protection standards . . . do not account for aggregation of environmental risks arising from the cumulative impact of different pollutants and through different environmental media.”[31]  

The lower Mississippi River industrial corridor is an example of a mostly minority community facing multiple and long-term exposure to severe environmental hazards.[32] This area, also known as “Cancer Alley,” is an 80-mile toxic stretch along the Mississippi between Baton Rouge and New Orleans where the air, ground, and water are full of carcinogens, mutagens, and embryo toxins emitted by more than 100 oil refineries and petrochemical plants.[33] Elizabeth Teel, deputy director of the Environmental Law Clinic at Tulane Law School, testified before the Commission in 2002 that based on the latest toxic release inventory and 2000 census figures, the U.S. average for pounds of toxic air releases per person is seven pounds and 60 pounds per person in Louisiana’s industrial corridor.[34] In terms of square mile, the U.S. average is 576 pounds per square mile and more than 17,000 pounds per square mile in the industrial corridor.[35]  

Data on health risks associated with multiple exposures is, obviously, critical to protecting the health of communities in Cancer Alley and similarly situated communities of color and poor communities. Identifying communities with multiple exposures, and determining related health risks, would enable EPA and other agencies to create interventions and strategies to improve the environment and reduce health risks.[36] In 2001, the National Academy of Public Administration recommended that these strategies include pollution prevention to reduce high-risk chemicals, closer scrutiny of new and renewal permit applications, and voluntary pollution reduction agreements involving communities, regulated industries, and EPA.[37] The strategies should include public education, the development of appropriate public health policies, as well as incentives for industry to use the latest available technologies to reduce environmental pollution and hazards.[38]  

Even with this demonstrated need for research on cumulative impact, or the threat to public health caused by exposure to the sum total of releases of environmental hazards,[39] EPA has not yet adopted a formal cumulative impact standard.[40] When asked to define its cumulative impact standard, EPA responded that it is still refining the process of conducting cumulative impact assessments and has no official agencywide policy or guidance on cumulative impact.[41] Some environmental program offices within EPA, however, do have published guidance on cumulative risk assessment.[42] These offices include the Office of Superfund Remediation Technology Innovation, which is responsible for managing the Superfund program, the Office of Pesticide Programs, the Office of Federal Activities, and the Office of Civil Rights.[43] Even EPA’s most recent report on the environment, Draft Report on the Environment 2003, fails to address the issue of adverse health effects resulting from multiple exposures to environmental hazards.[44] The report merely states that the link between some environmental pollutants and health problems is a challenging question that remains to be answered because causal relationships are difficult to establish.[45] Rather than making a case that it is an enormous scientific challenge to sort out the various environmental factors causing adverse human health outcomes, federal agencies must establish a cumulative impact based on the best available research.

Also of concern is the fact that while EPA’s risk assessments include information on multiple exposures, the agency does not presume that the presence of multiple chemicals in any amount constitutes an adverse health impact.[46] This failure to use the assessment criteria to establish a presumption of adverse health impact further indicates that EPA has not integrated cumulative impact concerns into its day-to-day operation. 

Troubling, still, is the failure of EPA’s Draft Report on the Environment 2003 to embrace the notion that the distribution of environmental benefits and burdens is based on race, income, and political power.[47] This is an apparent retreat from earlier EPA positions and Executive Order 12,898. Instead of retreating from this position, EPA and other federal agencies must work more closely with the health policy community to develop strategies to address health risks, and also work with all their stakeholders to develop environmental policies to eliminate or minimize the risks in these communities. 

In addition to reviewing EPA’s compliance with the Executive Order, the Commission also reviewed three other agencies regarding the extent and nature of their data collection and research efforts aimed at identifying and addressing any disproportionately high and adverse human health and environmental effects of their programs and activities on minority and low-income communities. Only significant issues are raised here concerning these agencies.

Under the trust relationship, the federal government has the legal obligation to properly manage, protect, and conserve resources and lands of American Indians and Alaska Natives.[48] As the federal agency delegated to take the lead in implementing much of the trust responsibilities, the Department of the Interior (DOI) has an affirmative duty to protect tribal health and safety.[49] Accordingly, the role of DOI in conducting research or collecting data on the impact of their land is crucial for Native Americans. 

Generally, the eight bureaus and divisions at DOI do not collect, maintain, and analyze information to assess the impact of environmental factors on the human health risks borne by Native American populations.[50] For example, the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recognizes that Native Americans and Alaska Natives are subsistence users of chinock and chum salmon and that they are concerned about contamination of their food sources with heavy metals, pesticides, and PCBs.[51] DOI, however, reports that sufficient information on this issue and its related health risks is “lacking.”[52] When data is available to FWS indicating a significant threat to the stability and sustainability of fish and wildlife populations, FWS merely shares the information with appropriate agencies.[53] There is no coordinated interagency response to such data. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development relies, largely, on the research conducted by other agencies. The exception is in the area of lead paint. A 2001 HUD report, National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing, provides information on lead hazards based on income level, race, ethnicity, and region.[54] HUD will repeat this survey of housing with lead hazards in 2004. While the rates of asthma in urban areas and in low-income communities are another growing health concern for communities of color and poor communities,[55] HUD does not maintain or collect data on asthma prevalence rates in urban areas or within HUD housing units in urban areas.[56] This data is collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through its National Health Nutrition Examination Survey.[57]

The Department of Transportation (DOT) encounters environmental and health issues in the context of:

Accordingly, it is important that these and other environmental justice and health issues arising in the transportation context be studied and addressed. Unfortunately, DOT “does not collect, maintain, and analyze information on a national basis to assess and compare the environmental and health risks related to transportation that may be borne by low income communities and communities of color relative to other populations.”[58] As part of transportation planning conducted under DOT requirements, metropolitan transportation planning organizations collect information on race, national origin, and income of persons affected by transportation programs. This data is used to identify transportation needs and develop plans, and it does not necessarily address transportation-related health risks.[59] According to DOT, environmental and health impact data is collected during the preparation of environmental assessments and environmental impact statements and as required by National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).[60]  

Agencies generally rely on compliance with NEPA as evidence of sufficient data collection and research on the human health, environmental, economic, and other impacts of their actions on minority and low-income populations. While Executive Order 12,898 and NEPA are compatible, compliance with NEPA alone does not ensure the protection of minority and low-income communities. This is evident in several areas. First, federal agencies are not required to comply with NEPA in all circumstances. NEPA is not triggered unless there is “major” federal action that “significantly” affects the “quality of the human environment.”[61] Only after there is a determination or an environmental assessment finding that a proposed action will have a “significant” impact on the environment is a responsible agency required to prepare an environmental impact statement.[62]  

Second, NEPA fails to ensure environmental justice for communities because it does not consider the socioeconomic impact of a proposed action. Socioeconomic factors will only be considered if they are closely connected to physical environmental factors.[63]  

The third shortcoming of NEPA in the environmental justice context is the number of exemptions that exist to NEPA compliance. For example, EPA actions under the Clean Air Act are exempt from the environmental impact statements.[64] Certain EPA exemptions also exist relating to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act,[65] the Safe Drinking Water Act,[66] the Toxic Substance Control Act,[67] the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act,[68] and the Clean Water Act.[69]  

The fourth, and possibly the most significant, reason why NEPA compliance does not fully address environmental justice concerns results from the fact that NEPA merely imposes procedural, not substantive, requirements on federal agencies. NEPA does not require that specific environmental results be achieved.[70] For example, NEPA does not require agencies to mitigate environmental or health risks or select the most environmentally advantageous options. Instead, NEPA only requires that agencies assess the environmental impact based on full information and provide the public access to the information.[71]

Of the agencies reviewed, EPA has the most comprehensive and detailed guidance on incorporating environmental justice into the NEPA process.[72] In fact, EPA’s guidance includes social, economic, and cultural effects in its assessments even though these factors alone will not justify an environmental impact statement under NEPA in the absence of a connection to the physical environment.[73] Additionally, in identifying affected populations, EPA not only uses census tract information as recommended by the Council on Environmental Quality, it also attempts to identify “pockets” or small concentrations of people of color and low-income communities.[74] EPA also incorporates more refined information from community groups, local records, interviews, and other sources to assist in identifying minority and low-income communities.[75]  

Technical Assistance for Communities

Public participation is an integral part of addressing environmental justice concerns.[76] Meaningful public participation is more than merely notifying the public of meetings and decisions; it means actively involving the community in decision-making. The degree to which these communities can effectively participate in the decision-making process is strongly dependent on their technical knowledge of the environmental hazards and the effects of these hazards on their health. A community’s technical understanding can be enhanced through technical assistance grants and by disseminating scientific information in language understandable to the general public. Based on the information gathered, federal agencies experience varying degrees of success providing technical assistance to the affected communities. For example, EPA has a Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) program designed to provide technical assistance to communities with Superfund sites and to enable these communities to make independent assessments of the technical aspects of pending environmental issues or decisions.[77]

In 2001, the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) recommended that EPA expand its TAG program to offer more timely and accessible technical assistance to communities; this expansion would allow communities to participate more effectively in EPA permitting processes.[78] At the time of the recommendation, EPA’s TAG program had scare resources and the program still has not received expanded funding.[79] According to EPA, funding for the TAG program varies from year to year depending on public requests.[80] The TAG program had its lowest funding of $193,067 in 1988 and its highest in 1995 of $2.08 million.[81] According to EPA budget information, funding for FY 2001 was at $1.86 million.[82] According to EPA, there is little likelihood that the budget for TAG programs will increase. EPA notes that Superfund, TAG’s funding source, has never denied a TAG request due to lack of funds[83] and that the agency expects to meet the foreseeable needs of TAG recipients without an additional increase in its budget.[84] The Commission, however, believes that the availability of TAG grant money will be hindered as a result of the decrease in the overall Superfund budget and the decrease in the Superfund Trust Fund with the expiration of the “polluter pays” tax. The overall Superfund budget in FY 2002 and FY 2003 decreased from $1.45 billion in FY 2001 to $1.3 billion for both years.[85]

In addition to concerns about funding, from the community perspective, the application process for TAG is complex and prolonged,[86] which can prevent or dissuade communities from applying for technical assistance grants. EPA has taken steps to make the grant application less complex and to eliminate delays in processing grant requests through its revised TAG rules finalized in October 2000.[87] Although it is difficult to assess whether these revised rules will lessen the complexities and eliminate delays, EPA nonetheless should continue to take steps to ensure that TAG programs are a continuing resource for communities to obtain technical assistance.

While the TAG program at EPA provides technical assistance to Superfund National Priorities List site communities,[88] non-Superfund site communities receive technical assistance on permitting issues through Technical Outreach Services for Communities (TOSC) at EPA.[89] TOSC, a service of the university-based Hazardous Substance Research Centers, focuses on hazardous waste issues and provides fundamental scientific information, interprets reports, explains the regulatory process, assists communities in preparing written comments to proposed regulations and actions, and conducts workshops for public education.[90] A group of 30 universities across the country form a network of five Hazardous Substance Research Centers, serving 10 EPA regions.[91] Through independent technical information and assistance, TOSC works with communities to help them better understand technical issues and to participate in environmental decision-making.[92] Unlike TAG, TOSC is not a grant program and, therefore, communities do not undergo a formal grant process,[93] which makes it easier for community groups to access.

While it has proved to be useful for some environmental situations, TOSC is limited by scare resources and can meet the needs of only a few communities.[94] From 1995 through March 2002, TOSC assisted approximately 155 communities.[95] The Environmental Protection Agency reports that the TOSC program is funded by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) program and the Superfund program.[96] The RCRA program is funded at $50,000 a year and the Superfund program is funded at $1,325,000 a year.[97] EPA responded that it expects to continue the TOSC program at the current funding levels.[98] It added that the RCRA is a pilot program and that even though the overall Superfund budget has been cut, funding for the TOSC program remained level.[99] In light of decreasing Superfund Trust Fund revenue and record federal deficits, it is unrealistic for EPA to assume that it can continue to appropriately fund its TOSC program.

Finally, like the TAG program, NAPA also recommended that EPA expand its TOSC program to offer more timely and accessible technical assistance to communities. Funding concerns may not make this possible.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, like EPA, provides technical assistance. HUD does not provide technical assistance grants directly to the communities needing assistance, but rather uses intermediaries who provide technical assistance to communities.[100] As discussed in this report, lead-based paint exposure is a significant health risk to minority and poor communities, especially children. In fact, reducing lead-paint exposure and lead poisoning has been identified as a HUD priority. Examples of HUD technical assistance grants related to lead exposure include:

Though lead exposure is a serious health threat, especially in older homes, which are often occupied by the poor and people of color, unlike EPA, HUD has no specific funding set aside for environmental reviews.[101] HUD attributes this absence of specific funding to competing priorities set for other technical assistance needs.[102] Technical assistance funds at HUD are available for a wide variety of needs, but with competing priorities “a very small percentage” of the technical assistance funding is used for environmental reviews.[103] HUD could not provide the Commission the specific dollar amount spent on technical assistance to address environmental concerns in its programs.[104]

The Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control at HUD has not received an increase in its technical assistance and Healthy Homes budgets for the past two years, even though its overall budget increased by $10 million.[105] The Healthy Homes program, targeting housing-related childhood diseases such as asthma, has remained at $10 million since FY 2002 and no increase is sought in the FY 2004 budget.[106] Likewise, the technical assistance program will continue to function at $10 million. Operation LEAP, in the Office of Lead-Based Paint, will receive no additional funding in FY 2004, remaining at $10 million.[107] HUD describes this program as “the President’s program to eradicate childhood lead-based paint poisoning in 10 years or less.”[108] Operation LEAP provides funds to organizations with a demonstrated capacity to leverage private sector funds for local lead hazard control programs. This program does not provide community technical assistance grants. HUD does report that community groups, as subgrantees of the Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control programs, do receive funding for public education on childhood lead poisoning.[109] Based on the information provided by HUD, these programs are not designed to provide scientific and technical assistance for challenging technical decisions related to administering HUD’s lead abatement program or other decisions that may harm human health.[110] The groups funded by these programs provide general public education information on lead poisoning prevention and housing-related childhood diseases and injuries.

The remaining two agencies, the Department of Transportation and the Department of the Interior, provide fewer opportunities for communities to access technical assistance than EPA and HUD. DOT reported that it does not generally provide technical assistance grants to communities to assist them in participating in the environmental decision-making process.[111] The Federal Aviation Administration at DOT, however, reports that it funds noise abatement planning for communities. Based on information provided by FAA, this program does not provide grant money to communities directly, or through third parties working with communities, for research and data collection on the adverse health and quality of life issues related to exposure to various noise levels. Furthermore, FAA reports that the program does not target minority and low-income communities.[112]

According to DOI, it does not have formal grant programs for helping tribes and affected communities participate in environmental decision-making processes.[113] Nevertheless, BIA occasionally provides funds to Indian tribes to participate in the preparation of NEPA documents, and the Bureau of Reclamation provides opportunities for affected Indian tribes to participate in the NEPA investigation process. Funding for BIA’s NEPA activities does not exceed $100,000 per year.[114]

The U.S. Geological Survey provides information to tribes and other communities, but does not provide technical assistance grants. The Office of Surface Mining (OSM) provides Abandoned Mine Land Program (AML) grants to the Navajo and the Crow and Hopi tribes to help them address hazards and environmental problems resulting from past mining on tribal lands.[115] The total grants were $7,288,963 for FY 2001. Under its regulatory and AML programs, OSM provides technical assistance to some tribal governments.[116]

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) does not provide any technical assistance grants. According to the bureau, “The funding level for technical assistance grants or community assistance grants is zero. We know of no increase in funding for technical and community assistance grants.”[117] BLM does not anticipate any additional funding for this type of assistance.[118]

Finally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stated that it does not have a formal technical assistance program, but that it has been providing technical training and assistance to tribes on fish and wildlife management. This assistance is implemented through its Fish and Wildlife Management Assistance and Fisheries Resources Offices.[119]

Translation of Scientific and Technical Data

The degree to which communities of color and low-income communities can participate in the decision-making process is strongly dependent on their knowledge of the environmental hazards and the effects of these hazards on their health. Therefore, in addition to providing more opportunities for data collection and gathering scientific information on the connection between hazards and health, the information gathered through these efforts must be made accessible to communities. One way of making this information accessible is to translate highly technical and scientific information into plain and understandable language.

In general, the federal agencies reviewed by the Commission have not taken measures to provide technical and scientific information in plain, understandable language. All federal agencies should ensure that communities affected by their environmental decisions can receive proper technical information that is understandable and that the information is available in languages other than English.

EPA emphasizes the importance of translating technical data into nonscientific language.[120] Accordingly, EPA has been operating under the “Preliminary Plain Language Guidance.”[121] This guideline was established as a result of the President’s Memorandum on Plain Language, which required every federal agency to draft its rules and policy in language understandable to lay persons. Following this presidential memorandum, EPA established its own plain language guidance to ensure that plain language is used in every proposed and final rule published in the Federal Register effective January 1, 1999.[122]

EPA added that this effort to make EPA documents readable by laypersons is further documented in one of EPA’s major goals for 2000 to 2005, which is “giving the access to educational services and tools that provide for the reliable and secure exchange of quality environmental information.”[123] To achieve this goal, EPA has produced a document titled “Lessons Learned About Designing, Developing, and Disseminating Environmental Information Products.”[124] This document summarizes common issues that EPA staff encounter when developing environmental information products and has formed the foundation for a “best practices” series.[125]

EPA also reports that it is working with the Office of Management and Budget to comply with OMB’s guidelines requiring all federal agencies to promulgate agency guidelines ensuring the quality and accuracy of the information they produce or disseminate.[126] In fact, EPA issued “Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Dissemination by the Environmental Protection Agency” in 2002.[127] OMB guidelines require all federal agencies to promulgate their own guidance ensuring “quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information” they produce.[128] While this policy is positive on its face, and public policy should be based on the best available information, the Commission is concerned that OMB’s guidelines may create new challenges for environmental advocates. Under the policy, before a federal regulation, study, or report supported by data can be published, the “affected persons” may challenge the objectivity and the accuracy of the data underlying the proposed regulation.[129] The problem with this new policy is twofold for environmental justice advocates:

As to the first point, in order for “affected persons” to challenge any government data, they must hire their own experts to conduct the necessary scientific research on the accuracy of the government information or have access to data from other sources.[130] Critics argue that this gives a tremendous advantage to industry groups over community groups and environmental advocates who are less well funded and have limited access to technical resources.[131] As to the second point, the administrative policy places a burden on the government agency implementing regulations to invest increased amounts of time defending the reliability and accuracy of its underlying scientific data even when objections are raised for political or tactical reasons. In the environmental context, this burden may delay or prevent government agencies from using limited available environmental and health data to implement regulations that would potentially help minority and low-income communities. Nonetheless, the health risks associated with environmental hazards are real and the responsible federal agencies must implement aggressive policies regulating environmental hazards to protect vulnerable populations. Therefore, the implementation and impact of information quality guidelines drafted by federal agencies must be carefully monitored to prevent abuse and unnecessary delays in rule-making.

EPA has stated a commitment to making scientific and technical data accessible by translating it into plain, understandable, and not overly technical terms. HUD, however, has made limited efforts in this area.[132] Much of HUD’s education effort consists of leaflets and brochures that provide very basic information on understanding lead problems. The brochures do not provide scientific and technical information in lay terms that allow community groups to make informed decisions and participate in environmental decision-making that affects their health.[133] The Department of Transportation reported participating in the government’s “plain English” initiative and undertaking efforts to make technical and scientific data accessible and understandable.[134] DOT, in the guidance that the Federal Highway and Federal Transit Administrations provide to the states, emphasizes the importance of making technical data understandable to nontechnical audiences.[135] These two offices have published the “FHWA/FTA Questions and Answers on Public Involvement in Transportation Decision Making,” a booklet with 14 questions and answers regarding public involvement in the DOT process.[136] It does not provide technical or scientific data that assists communities in understanding possible adverse health risks associated with FHWA/FTA programs and activities.[137] No other offices or bureaus at DOT report efforts or policies for making scientific and technical information more accessible by using terms and language more easily understood by a lay audience.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior makes limited efforts to ensure that technical and scientific data is presented in a format accessible to tribes.[138] These efforts include consulting with tribes on BIA activities and drafting regulations and guidance in plain English.[139] BIA, however, does not have policies and guidelines to ensure that its consultations are conducted in a manner that ensures that any technical and scientific data presented is understood by the tribal representatives. BIA, nonetheless, expressed that its efforts to ensure that technical and scientific data is accessible to tribes also include hiring Native American staff to serve Native Americans.[140] While having Native American staff at BIA is important, these staff members must also be properly trained on the technical and scientific data and must be able to provide technical assistance to the communities they serve. The Bureau of Reclamation at DOI has developed a draft policy for the civil rights program that includes a requirement for complying with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Section 508, however, governs federal agencies’ use of electronic and information technology to make information accessible to people with disabilities and does not address translating technical and scientific data into language more easily understood by tribes and adversely affected communities.[141] This draft policy is currently undergoing organizational review and has not yet been issued. This policy to make translating technical and scientific information into language understandable by a lay audience is commendable and should be considered for agencywide implementation. The U.S. Geological Survey explained that, to date, it has not received any requests for translation of technical information.[142] The efforts to make technical information accessible and understandable by affected communities should not be based on requests an agency receives. It should be an affirmative step taken by the agency to address environmental justice concerns.

Participatory Role for Communities in Research and Data Collection

Increasingly, communities of color and low-income communities are demanding that they play a “participatory role in defining, analyzing, and prescribing solutions to improve the conditions they face.”[143] Overall, it is important that public health research include community involvement and newer and more creative methods of data collection and analysis.[144] It is important that communities are recruited to participate in research and to provide “a collaborative community response to environmental risks [to] help detect, limit, and prevent environmental insults and their harmful health effects.”[145] This collaborative community response requires that (1) health care professionals be able to diagnose and distinguish between environmental and other diseases, (2) the public be able to understand these risks to the health of their community, and (3) “that governmental and industrial leaders use the strength of the community while being responsive to their needs.”[146]

Many communities that advocate for more involvement in environmental health research and decision-making note that “their experience, contextual and local knowledge should be considered local expertise about the multiple hazards and chronic diseases afflicting their communities.”[147] According to Professor Hynes, some community organizations routinely work with researchers to gather and use substantive scientific information.[148] Environmental justice and community organizations primarily use this scientific research in two ways: (1) to help them understand environmental health risks, and (2) in collaboration with researchers to generate new or additional scientific information.[149] One way communities get involved in scientific research is through a process called “community-based participatory research” (CBPR).[150] Community members partner with scientists to define problems, collect information, and analyze data.[151]

In an article exploring the use of community-based research by one community, the Greenpoint/Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, the author concluded that communities of color are starting to recognize that to ensure that public research accurately address the environmental hazards and health problems they face, the communities themselves must be involved in defining problems, and working with scientists in gathering and analyzing data.[152] Having the benefit of local knowledge allows the experts to “identify gaps in expert assumptions, improve professional understanding of local practices, and identify locally relevant health promoting interventions.”[153] The author acknowledges that CBPR can help achieve environmental justice but that the process is not without limitations and cannot alone remedy persistent underlining inequalities.[154]

Nonetheless, this type of participatory research empowers communities affected by environmental hazards by providing them with resources.[155] For example, the Healthy Public Housing Project funds community partners.[156] This project teaches local organizations to conduct standardized surveys of housing conditions and environmental samplings of evidence of respiratory health conditions.[157] The analysis of this data is performed at a university. The outcome of the analysis is then presented to the community partners for their interpretation. Therefore, the resulting public policy is based on workable solutions to the environmental health issue, by involving nonprofit groups and other stakeholders in the research.[158]  

Criticism that scientific research on adverse health impacts caused by environmental hazards is tainted by the involvement of community groups and environmental organizations is unfounded. The involvement of community groups is being recognized as an important aspect of scientific research. The current trend at federal agencies is to require that Requests for Proposals for conducting environmental justice research work include evidence of partnerships with community organizations, nonprofit groups, local residents, and area universities.[159] The objective of this partnership is to design studies that link causation of environmental problems with public health.[160] Moreover, this collaboration enhances the relevance of studies by establishing community partners who actually experience the particular environmental justice problem that is being examined through research.[161] Community collaboration in scientific research is not only legitimate but an important part of overall comprehensive scientific research on the adverse human health effects of environmental hazards.


In general, there is inadequate literature on the relationship between environmental factors and health status. More specifically, there is insufficient data examining the relationships among the environmental, racial, ethnic, and other socioeconomic determinants of adverse health outcomes. More research clarifying these relationships and closer collaboration between health and environmental communities are needed. 

This collaboration is necessary if adverse health risks in minority and poor communities are to be identified and addressed. One of the factors limiting collaboration is inadequate funding for research and the lack of involvement of these communities in the research that is being done. 

While scientific and health research, collection of data, and dissemination of health hazard information to the affected communities are necessary for the public to participate fully in the environmental decision-making process, the four federal agencies reviewed by the Commission do not have measures in place to provide technical assistance or technical assistance grants to allow the public to participate more meaningfully in decision-making processes. 

Finally, with the exception of EPA, the agencies reviewed by the Commission have expended little or no effort to make scientific and technical information accessible by using plain language and providing information in languages other than English.

To resolve concerns about sufficient research and data collection on the nexus between environmental factors and health, community and researcher access to technical assistance grants, and community access to scientific and technical information that is translated into nonscientific terms, the Commission makes the following recommendations for agencies and their technical assistance grant recipients:

[1] United Church of Christ, Commission for Racial Justice, Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States: A National Report on the Racial and Socioeconomic Characteristics of Communities with Hazardous Waste Sites, 1987, pp. 6–7 (hereafter cited as Commission for Racial Justice, Toxic Wastes and Race).

[2] Ibid., p. 7.

[3] Ibid.

[4] See, e.g., Luke W. Cole and Shelia R. Foster, From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement (New York University Press, 2001), pp. 54–55, 167–83 (hereafter cited as Cole and Foster, From the Ground Up); Manuel Pastor, Jr., Jim Sadd, and John Hipp, “Which Came First? Toxic Facilities, Minority Move-In, and Environmental Justice,” Journal of Urban Affairs, vol. 23, no. 1, 2001, p. 3; Robert Bullard, Building Just, Safe and Healthy Communities, 12 Tulane Envt’l L.J. 373, 377 (Spring 1999) (hereafter cited as Bullard, Building Just, Safe and Healthy Communities); Benjamin A. Goldman and Laura Fitton, Toxic Wastes and Race Revisited: An Update of the 1987 Report on the Racial and Socioeconomic Characteristics of Communities with Hazardous Waste Sites (Center for Policy Alternatives and the United Church of Christ, Commission for Racial Justice, 1994), pp. 2–4, 16.

[5] Dr. Robert Bullard, director, Environmental Justice Resource Center, telephone interview, Apr. 10, 2002.

[6] Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, Exec. Order No. 12,898, 3 C.F.R. 859 (1995), reprinted as amended in 42 U.S.C. § 4321 at 72–73, §§ 1-101, 1-103(a), 3-302 (1994 & Supp. IV 1998) (hereafter cited as Exec. Order No. 12,898).

[7] Institute of Medicine, Toward Environmental Justice: Research, Education, and Health Policy Needs, 1999, p. 5 (hereafter cited as Institute of Medicine, Toward Environmental Justice).

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Draft Report on the Environment 2003, p. 6-2, <> (last accessed July 12, 2003) (hereafter cited as EPA, Draft Report on the Environment 2003). In 1987, the Commission for Racial Justice recommended that the Department of Health and Human Services conduct epidemiological studies to determine to what extent hazardous wastes and environmental pollutants contribute to the known health problems in poor communities and communities of color. Commission for Racial Justice, Toxic Wastes and Race, p. 25.

[12] EPA, Draft Report on the Environment 2003.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Dr. John Groopman, program director and chairman of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences Toxicological Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, telephone interview, Apr. 11, 2002 (hereafter cited as Groopman interview).

[15] See U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Environmental Equity Workgroup, Environmental Equity: Reducing Risk for All Communities, 1992.

[16] EPA, Draft Report on the Environment 2003, p. 6-2.

[17] Ibid.

[18] H. Patricia Hynes et al., Public Health and the Physical Environment in Boston Public Housing: A Community-based Survey and Action Agenda (Planning Practice & Research), vol. 15, 2000, p. 31.

[19] Institute of Medicine, Toward Environmental Justice, p. 4.

[20] See Groopman interview; H. Patricia Hynes, professor, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, telephone interview, Apr. 4, 2002 (hereafter cited as Hynes interview).

[21] Groopman interview; Hynes interview.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Groopman interview. The research and data are varied enough for the political left and right to find material to bolster most positions. The political debate, however, should not overshadow the need for environmental justice research. Michael B. Gerrard, Esq., Arnold & Porter, telephone interview, Apr. 1, 2002.

[25] See David Bates, Environmental Health Risks and Public Policy (University of Washington Press, 1994).

[26] For some scientists, science, in itself, is not filtered or tainted by politics. Instead, they believe, politics taints how individuals use scientific data. One example is when individuals choose not to cite a study’s complete findings or data because of their particular political interests. Another example, in reference to the proven link between exposure to tobacco smoke and lung cancer, is the selective use or non-use of certain information in these studies to prove a point. Groopman interview.

[27] The Council on Environmental Quality defines cumulative impact as the overall environmental impact of past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions that individually may result in minor impact, but when taken collectively have a significant impact over a long period of time. 40 C.F.R. § 1508.7 (2002).

In 1998 EPA’s Title VI Implementation Advisory Committee determined that cumulative impact is a fundamental concern of communities of color and low-income communities and recommended that responsible parties and authorities act to reduce or eliminate the impact of multiple exposures in these communities, and that research on cumulative exposures and synergistic effects be undertaken. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Cooperative Environmental Management, “Report of the Title VI Implementation Advisory Committee—Next Steps for EPA, State, and Local Environmental Justice Programs,” Mar. 1, 1999, p. 6 (hereafter cited as EPA, “Report of the Title VI Implementation Advisory Committee”).

[28] Cole and Foster, From the Ground Up, p. 59; Bullard, Building Just, Safe, and Healthy Communities, p. 376 (environmental hazards often do not result from a single environmental threat). Cumulative impact has a special significance for people of color and for low-income communities who are disproportionately affected by locally unwanted land uses. Bullard, Building Just, Safe, and Healthy Communities, p. 378.

[29] Bullard, Building Just, Safe, and Healthy Communities, p. 376.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Richard Lazarus, Essay: Fairness in Environmental Law, 27 Envtl. L. 705, 712–13 (1997).

[32] In 1993, the Louisiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights also found that many of the facilities emitting large amounts of chemicals in the industrial corridor are located in areas with predominantly minority populations. The advisory committee noted in its report that its findings were supported by EPA’s report, Toxics Release Inventory and Emissions Reductions 1987–1990 in the Lower Mississippi River Industrial Corridor. Louisiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, The Battle for Environmental Justice in Louisiana . . . Government, Industry, and the People, September 1993, p. 63.

[33] Chatham College, “Leaders of Cancer Alley,” <> (last accessed Apr. 10, 2003).

[34] Elizabeth Teel, deputy director, Environmental Law Clinic, Tulane Law School, testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, hearing, Washington, DC, Jan. 11, 2002, official transcript, p. 117 (hereafter cited as January Hearing Transcript).

[35] Ibid.

[36] NAPA, Environmental Justice in EPA Permitting, p. 48.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Michael B. Gerrard, Esq., Arnold & Porter, Testimony, January Hearing Transcript, pp. 73–74 (newer facilities are cleaner than older facilities and older facilities enjoy grandfather clause protections under current environmental laws).

[39] EPA uses the term “cumulative risk” to define the risk associated with multiple exposures. EPA, “Report of the Title VI Implementation Advisory Committee,” p. 24.

[40] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Response to the Commission’s Interrogatory Question 38, April 2002 (hereafter cited as EPA, Response to Interrogatory Question). A 2001 National Academy of Public Administration study of EPA’s programs for issuing air, water, and waste permits concluded that the agency needed to develop scientifically valid methods for assessing cumulative risks created by pollution but that it lacked the practical tools to conduct cumulative risk assessments. NAPA, Environmental Justice in EPA Permitting, p. 45.

[41] Ibid.

[42] EPA, Response to Interrogatory Question 38.

[43] Ibid.

[44] EPA, Draft Report on the Environment 2003.

[45] Ibid., pp. 4–20.

[46] EPA, Response to Interrogatory Question 38.

[47] EPA, Draft Report on the Environment 2003, “Environmental Pollution and Disease,” p. 4-12 (“[p]oor or other disadvantaged populations may live in more polluted environments that expose them to higher concentrations of pollutants”) (emphasis added).

[48] See U.S. Department of the Interior, “American Indians and Alaska Natives,” <> (last accessed Oct. 9, 2002).

[49] Ibid.

[50] U.S. Department of the Interior, Response to the Commission’s Interrogatory Question 30, May 2002 (hereafter cited as DOI, Response to Interrogatory Question). The bureaus are the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Office of Surface Mining (OSM), Minerals Management Service (MMS), Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Park Service (FWS), National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

[51] DOI, Response to Interrogatory Question 30.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Ibid. According to FWS, it is currently conducting a large-scale study of contamination of salmon in major river systems in Alaska. As part of this study, FWS is sharing this study data with local communities, and public health agencies and organizations, such as the Yukon River Drainage Fishermen’s Association, but it does not make public health interpretations of the data. See Deborah Charette, assistant solicitor, Branch of Personnel Litigation and Civil Rights, Office of the Solicitor, U.S. Department of the Interior, facsimile to Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Aug. 20, 2003, p. 5 (hereafter cited as Charette facsimile).

[54] U.S. Housing and Urban Development, Document Exhibit 23, “National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing,” Apr. 18, 2001.

[55] The prevalence of asthma has been steadily increasing in the United States. The increase in asthma has been most marked in children and in minority populations. Moreover, evidence indicates that inner-city and urban populations are most at risk. The role of ambient air pollution has been widely investigated, but more recently the focus has been on indoor environmental risk factors such as moisture and mold growth, pest infestation, high dust levels, heating systems, inadequate ventilation, and exposure to cigarette smoke. Doug Brugge et al., Housing Conditions and Respiratory Health in a Boston Public Housing Community, p. 150.

[56] U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Response to the Commission’s Interrogatory Question 30, April 2002 (hereafter cited as HUD, Response to Interrogatory Question).

[57] Ibid.

[58] U.S. Department of Transportation, Response to the Commission’s Interrogatory Question 38, April 2002 (hereafter cited as DOT, Response to Interrogatory Question). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) responded that it collects, maintains, and analyzes information during the preparation of an environmental impact statement as part of the NEPA process. Ibid.

[59] DOT, Response to Interrogatory Question 38.

[60] Ibid. National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, 42 U.S.C. §§ 4321–4370 (1994).

[61] Id. § 4332(2)(C).

[62] Save Our Heritage, Inc., et al. v. Fed. Aviation Admin., 269 F.3d 49, 57 (1st Cir. 2001); Sierra Club v. U.S. Forest Serv., 46 F.3d 835 (8th Cir. 1995); D’Agnillo v. Dep’t of Hous. and Urban Dev., 965 F. Supp. 535, 542 (S.D.N.Y 1997).

[63] Michael B. Gerrard, ed., The Law of Environmental Justice: Theories and Procedures to Address Disproportionate Risks, “Impact Assessment,” by Shelia Foster (Chicago: ABA Publishing, 1999), pp. 260–64 (hereafter cited as Foster, “Impact Assessment”).

[64] Energy Supply and Environmental Coordination Act of 1974, 15 U.S.C. § 793(c)(1) (1994).

[65] See, e.g., 40 C.F.R. § 124.9(b)(6) (2003). See also U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Final Guidance for Incorporating Environmental Justice Concerns in EPA’s NEPA Compliance Analyses, April 1988, <> (last accessed Aug. 1, 2003) (hereafter cited as EPA, Final Guidance for Incorporating Environmental Justice Concerns).

[66] See, e.g., Western Nebraska Resources Council v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 943 F.2d 867, 871–872 (8th Cir. 1991).

[67] See, e.g., Foster, “Impact Assessment,” p. 260.

[68] Envtl. Def. Fund v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, 489 F.2d 1247, 1256 (D.C. Cir. 1973).

[69] 33 U.S.C. § 1371(c)(1) (1994); Cross Timbers Concerned Citizens v. Saginaw, 991 F. Supp. 563 (N.D. Tex. 1997).

[70] Robertson v. Methow Valley Citizens Council, 490 U.S. 332, 349–354 (1989) (NEPA itself does not mandate particular results, but simply prescribes the necessary process); Fund for Animals, Inc. v. Rice, 85 F.3d 535, 546 (11th Cir. 1996).

[71] Methow Valley Citizens Council, 490 U.S. at 349; Sierra Club, 46 F.3d at 837.

[72] The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is responsible for providing federal agencies guidance on implementing environmental justice through the NEPA process, and EPA is the lead agency responsible for implementing the Executive Order. CEQ’s guidance notes that Executive Order 12,898 does not alter existing requirements and interpretations of NEPA. See Council on Environmental Quality, Environmental Justice Guidance Under the National Environmental Policy Act, Dec. 10, 1997, pp. 1, 10, <> (last accessed Aug. 1, 2003).

[73] EPA, Final Guidance for Incorporating Environmental Justice Concerns.

[74] Ibid.

[75] Ibid.

[76] See U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation, Engaging the American People: A Review of EPA’s Public Participation Policy and Regulations with Recommendations for Action, EPA 240-R-00-005, December 2000, p. 1; Damu Smith, campaigner, Greenpeace Toxic Campaign, Greenpeace, USA, Testimony, January Hearing Transcript, p. 115; Peggy Shepard, executive director, West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc., Testimony, January Hearing Transcript, p. 123.

[77] Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C. § 9617(e) (1994).

[78] National Academy of Public Administration, Environmental Justice in EPA Permitting: Reducing Pollution in High-Risk Communities Is Integral to the Agency’s Mission, December 2001, pp. 68, 75 (hereafter cited as NAPA, Environmental Justice in EPA Permitting).

[79] See EPA, Response to Interrogatory Question 20.

[80] Ibid.

[81] Ibid.

[82] Ibid.  

[83] Ibid. EPA responded that it has granted a total of 244 grants since 1988. The number of new TAGs varied from year to year. In 1995 EPA had 26 grants, and in 2001 it had 18 grants. Ibid.

[84] Ibid.

[85] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Summary of the EPA Budget, < bib.pdf>; <> (last accessed July 14, 2003). The Superfund budget for FY 2004 is $1.39 billion, a slight increase over the previous two years. Ibid.

[86] NAPA, Environmental Justice in EPA Permitting, p. 68.

[87] EPA, Response to Interrogatory Question 20.

[88] Ibid.

[89] NAPA, Environmental Justice in EPA Permitting, p. 68.

[90] Ibid.

[91] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Technical Outreach Services,” < tosc/whattosc.html> (last accessed July 31, 2003); EPA, Response to Interrogatory Question 20.

[92] NAPA, Environmental Justice in EPA Permitting, p. 68. Communities seeking TOSC assistance must meet the threshold criteria of hazardous contamination or toxic contamination. After threshold eligibility is established, communities are more likely to receive assistance if one or more of the following exists: environmental justice issues, human health protection issues, high community interest, good community organization, multiple requests from different sources, benefit to the community, or the potential for TOSC to provide assistance early enough in the process to be meaningful. See Hazardous Substance Research Centers, “HSRC Outreach Programs for Communities: Selection Criteria,” <> (last accessed July 31, 2003).

[93] NAPA, Environmental Justice in EPA Permitting, p. 68.

[94] Ibid.

[95] EPA, Response to Interrogatory Question 20.

[96] Ibid.

[97] Ibid.

[98] Ibid.

[99] Ibid.

[100] HUD, Response to Interrogatory Question 46.

[101] Ibid.

[102] Ibid.

[103] Ibid.

[104] Ibid.

[105] U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Fiscal Year 2004 Budget Summary, Appendix B, <> (last accessed July 31, 2003).

[106] Ibid., p. 32.

[107] Ibid., Appendix B.

[108] Ibid., p. 31.

[109] Carol Wilson, associate general counsel, Office of Litigation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, e-mail to Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Aug. 15, 2003.

[110] Ibid.

[111] DOT, Response to Interrogatory Question 35.

[112] Marc Brenman, senior policy advisor, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of transportation, e-mail to Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Aug. 15, 2003, p. 3.

[113] DOI, Response to Interrogatory Question 37.

[114] Ibid.

[115] Ibid.

[116] Ibid.

[117] Ibid.

[118] Ibid.

[119] Ibid.

[120] EPA, Response to Interrogatory Question 21.

[121] Ibid.

[122] Peter Robertson, acting deputy administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, memorandum, Dec. 31, 1998.

[123] Ibid.

[124] EPA, Response to Interrogatory Question 21.

[125] Ibid.

[126] Ibid. See Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act of 2001, Pub. L. No 106-554, 114 Stat. 2763, 2763A-154, § 515(b)(2)(A) (2000); Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies, Office of Management and Budget, 67 Fed. Reg. 8452 (Feb. 22, 2002).

[127] Karen Higginbotham, director, Office of Civil Rights, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, letter to Office of the General Counsel, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Aug. 22, 2003, p. 15; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA/260R-02-008, October 2002 (hereafter cited as EPA, Information Quality Guidelines).

[128] 67 Fed. Reg. at 8452.

[129] EPA, Information Quality Guidelines, p. 15.

[130] Ibid., pp. 30–31.

[131] Rebecca Adams, “Federal Regulations Face Assault on Their Foundation,” Congressional Quarterly, Aug. 10, 2002, pp. 2182–83.

[132] HUD, Response to Interrogatory Question 45.

[133] Ibid. These leaflets include a joint HUD/EPA/CPSC brochure “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home,” a Lead Paint Safety Field Guide, a leaflet for parents on lead safety, question-and-answer leaflets for parents, landlords, and painters and remodelors, a community outreach kit, “Danger in the Home,” and “Help Yourself to a Healthy Home.” Ibid.

[134] DOT, Response to Interrogatory Question 34.

[135] Ibid.

[136] Ibid.

[137] Ibid.

[138] DOI, Response to Interrogatory Question 27.

[139] Ibid.

[140] Ibid. BIA explained that over 90 percent of BIA’s employees are Native American. Ibid.

[141] Charette facsimile, p. 5. See also Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794d (1998).

[142] Charette facsimile, p. 5.

[143] Jason Corburn, “Combining Community-Based Research and Local Knowledge to Confront Asthma and Subsistence-Fishing Hazards in Greenpoint/Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York,” Environmental Health Perspective, vol. 110, supp. 2, April 2002, p. 241 (hereafter cited as Corburn, “Combining Community-Based Research and Local Knowledge”).

[144] Institute of Medicine, Toward Environmental Justice, p. 6.

[145] Ibid., p. 7.

[146] Ibid., pp. 7–8.

[147] Corburn, “Combining Community-Based Research and Local Knowledge,” p. 241.

[148] Hynes interview.

[149] Ibid.

[150] Ibid.

[151] Ibid.

[152] Corburn, “Combining Community-Based Research and Local Knowledge,” p. 247.

[153] Ibid.

[154] Ibid.

[155] Ibid.

[156] Ibid. The Department of Housing and Urban Development and other private organizations fund the Healthy Public Housing Project.

[157] Ibid.

[158] Ibid.

[159] Ibid.

[160] Ibid.

[161] Ibid.