Discussion Paper

Integrating EJ into Federal Policies and Programs: Examining the Role of Regulatory Impact Analyses and Environmental Impact Statements

Oct 15, 2008 | Shalini Vajjhala, Amanda Van Epps, Sarah Jo F Szambelan


Following Executive Order 12898 in 1994, federal agencies have taken a variety of steps to incorporate environmental justice (EJ) into their programs and practices. Two scales at which these efforts are critical are regulatory design and enforcement. This study evaluates Regulatory Impact Analyses (RIAs) and Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) across three federal agencies (theDepartment of Energy, the Department of Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency) to compare the extent to which EJ is addressed at these two scales, across agencies, and over time. Bysearching agency documents for key EJ variables, such as site, population, and impact characteristics, we develop a framework to determine if RIAs and EISs include sufficient information to identifydisproportionate impacts of proposed regulations or projects on minority and low-income communities. Results of this analysis reveal that EJ issues are noted more frequently in all three agencies’ EISs over time, but few RIAs or EISs contain enough data to assess whether EJ impacts are significant.