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2014 Environmental Justice Implementation Progress Report

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2014 Environmental Justice Implementation Progress Report


Overview

Introduction

Development of the 2012 HHS Environmental Justice Strategy and Implementation Plan

Development of the 2014 Environmental Justice Implementation Progress Report

Environmental Justice Strategy Implementation Highlights for 2013

Community Engagement Activities

HHS Involvement in Federal EJ IWG Activities

HHS EJ-Related Publications

APPENDIX A: HHS EJ Action Progress Table

Overview

Environmental justice is defined as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”[1] On February 11, 1994, President William J. Clinton signed Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations.[2] The Executive Order requires each federal agency to “make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations.” Specifically, the Executive Order requires that each agency develop an agency-wide environmental justice strategy specific to the agency’s mission.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued its first Environmental Justice Strategy in 1995.[3] In August 2011, HHS reaffirmed its commitment to environmental justice by joining 16 other federal agencies in signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Environmental Justice and Executive Order 12898. This renewed federal effort to address environmental justice led to the development of the 2012 HHS Environmental Justice Strategy and Implementation Plan (2012 HHS EJ Strategy). The Strategy also supports the HHS Strategic Plan by promoting prevention and wellness across the lifespan.

In accordance with the MOU, each agency is responsible for preparing annual reports detailing the progress the agency has made in implementing their environmental justice strategies. This 2014 Environmental Justice Implementation Progress Report summarizes HHS’s advancement of the actions outlined in the 2012 HHS EJ Strategy. The report highlights some of HHS’s significant contributions to environmental justice in the areas of stakeholder engagement; policy development and dissemination; education and training; research and data collection, analysis, and utilization; and services. It also describes HHS’s participation in the activities of the Federal Environmental Justice Interagency Working Group (EJ IWG), an interdepartmental body that includes representation from 17 federal departments and offices.

Introduction

The HHS mission is to enhance the health and well-being of Americans by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services.[4] HHS is the U.S. government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. The 2012 HHS EJ Strategy (or Strategy) recognizes the impact of environmental factors on health and well-being. The HHS vision for environmental justice is “a nation that equitably promotes healthy community environments and protects the health of all people.”[5]

Development of the 2012 HHS Environmental Justice Strategy and Implementation Plan

The 2012 HHS EJ Strategy demonstrates an agency-wide commitment to address environmental justice, consistent with the HHS mission. HHS released its strategy in February 2012, after a 60-day public comment period that affirmed support for the strategy’s vision, guiding principles, goals, strategies, and actions, and a number of multi-city stakeholder meetings.

Four strategic elements serve as a framework for the 2012 HHS EJ Strategy. They include the following: policy development and dissemination; education and training; research and data collection, analysis, and utilization; and services. The Strategy includes a series of specific environmental justice actions under each of these four areas. A graphic representation of the Strategy’s vision, guiding principles, and strategic elements appear below.

Vision for Environmental Justice

Development of the 2014 Environmental Justice Implementation Progress Report

This Implementation Progress Report highlights the Department’s advancement of the actions outlined in the 2012 HHS EJ Strategy from February 2013 to December 2013.

Throughout 2013, the HHS Environmental Justice Working Group (HHS EJ Working Group), comprising representatives from agencies and offices across HHS, provided primary oversight of the implementation of the HHS EJ Strategy. The HHS EJ Working Group is led by staff from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH).

The HHS EJ Working Group utilized multiple subgroups to lead implementation efforts. Four subgroups organized by the strategic elements were responsible for monitoring their respective actions. Additional groups were established to address actions that cut across the four strategic elements. These crosscutting groups were established to address the following areas: (1) environmental justice award criteria; (2) vulnerability assessment and climate change; (3) health in all policies; (4) HHS environmental justice website; (5) community-based participatory research; (6) HHS employee environmental justice education and training; and (7) stakeholder engagement.

The 2014 Implementation Progress Report also addresses HHS’s efforts to uphold the 2012 HHS EJ Strategy’s three guiding principles -- Create and Implement Meaningful Public Partnerships, Ensure Interagency and Intra-agency Coordination, and Establish and Implement Accountability Measures.

Create and Implement Meaningful Public Partnerships

Building on previous HHS efforts to identify and establish partnerships to help in implementing the 2012 HHS EJ Strategy, members of the HHS EJ Working Group, including those from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Office of Minority Health (OMH), and Indian Health Service (IHS) hosted a meeting focused on identifying priorities for action to address environmental health disparities (EHD) and environmental justice (EJ). The meeting brought together researchers, community residents, healthcare professionals, and federal partners committed to addressing EHD and EJ, in particular the grantees funded by the agencies mentioned above on July 29-31, 2013.

Ensure Interagency and Intra-agency Coordination

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) is responsible for coordinating and implementing a wide array of interdisciplinary programs within HHS and ensures that HHS works in concert with its federal partners, including the Federal EJ IWG. OASH staff lead the HHS EJ Working Group, and coordinate its subcommittees and groups. Bi-weekly meetings of the working group provide time for sharing information and new approaches, identifying opportunities for collaboration, and updating progress toward advancing the actions of the 2012 HHS EJ Strategy. HHS EJ Working Group members are responsible for coordinating and reporting on activities related to environmental justice within their agencies. The HHS EJ Leadership Advisory Group, which includes senior leadership throughout HHS, provides guidance to the overall HHS environmental justice effort.

HHSstaff also serveon the Federal EJ IWG and coordinate appropriate representation on EJ IWG activities, including monthly EJ IWG meetings, regional or local stakeholder meetings and EJ IWG workgroups on goods movement, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and other environmental justice topic areas. An accounting of the Federal EJ IWG activities is discussed in a later section of this report.

Establish and Implement Accountability Measures

The 2014 Implementation Progress Report documents HHS’s progress in implementing the 2012 HHS EJ Strategy’s actions in two ways. First, the report highlights specific completed actions. Second, Appendix A shows the progress toward completion for each environmental justice action under the four strategic elements in the 2012 HHS EJ Strategy. The actions in the strategy span a time horizon beyond several years. The HHS EJ Action Progress Table located in Appendix A illustrates the levels of progress made on each EJ action. The table indicates whether the action is complete or substantial progress has been made, some progress has been made, and where progress is still needed. It also shows where particular actions have become inactive. The progress estimates are based on assessments made by the HHS staff who are responsible for overseeing the implementation of the specific environmental justice actions.

Environmental Justice Strategy Implementation Highlights for 2013 

Community Engagement Activities

HHS Involvement in Federal EJ IWG Activities

The EJ IWG is working to facilitate the active involvement of all federal agencies in implementing EO 12898 by minimizing and mitigating disproportionate negative impacts while fostering environmental, public health, and economic benefits for overburdened communities. Federal agencies have made significant progress towards fulfilling the promise of EO 12898 under the leadership of EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Starting with a cabinet-level meeting and the first-ever White House Forum on Environmental Justice in 2010, federal agencies reinvigorated the EJ IWG. Seventeen cabinet members and White House offices signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Environmental Justice and Executive Order 12898 (EJ MOU) in 2011. In keeping with a commitment to hear from communities, the EJ IWG conducted 18 community listening sessions across the country in 2011-2012. Fifteen federal agencies issued final agency EJ strategies, implementation plans, and/or progress reports in 2013. In August 2011, the EJ IWG identified NEPA, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Goods Movement, and Climate Change as priority issues, and has initiated efforts to address them.

The EJ IWG will continue to focus its efforts on the four focus areas identified in the EJ MOU and continue to conduct listening sessions. The four focus areas identified are: (1) NEPA, (2) Goods Movement, (3) Climate Change and (4) Title VI. In addition, the EJ IWG established a committee on regional activities. The EJ IWG will also support the President’s Climate Action Plan. Specific activities include the following:

HHS EJ-Related Publications

Baron S.L., Beard S., Davis L.K., Delp L., Forst L., Kidd-Taylor A., Liebman A.K., Linnan L., Punnett L., Welch L.S. (2013). Promoting integrated approaches to reducing health inequalities among low-income workers: Applying a social ecological framework. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. DOI10.1002/ajim.22174

CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report – United States, 2013. Supplement. Vol. 62. No. 3. (November 22, 2013) http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/other/su6203.pdf

Steege A.L., Baron S.L., Marsh S.M., Menendez C.C., and Myers J.R. 2014. Examining occupational health and safety disparities using national data: A cause for continuing concern. American Journal of Industrial Medicine. DOI: 10.1002/ajim.22297 

APPENDIX A HHS EJ Action Progress

Table Legend
G = Complete or Substantial Progress
Y = Some Progress
R = Progress Needed (* Less than 25% complete)
X = Inactive

Strategic Element

Strategies & Actions

Lead Agency

Status

Policy Development & Dissemination 

A: Integrate EJ principles and strategies into the implementation of key statutes and policies that may impact minority and low-income populations and Indian Tribes.

A.1 Incorporate, where feasible and appropriate, environmental justice in award criteria of HHS grants and other funding opportunities.

HHS EJ WG

Y

A.2 Update existing public information materials on Title VI to include information and resources on environmental justice.

OCR

G

A.3 Conduct outreach events to educate local communities on the purpose and functions of the HHS Office for Civil Rights.

OCR

G

A.4 Update the HHS NEPA Policy to incorporate relevant environmental justice guidance and the principles of environmental justice.

ASA

Y

B: Incorporate environmental justice principles and strategies into consideration of emerging issues that may disproportionately impact minority and low-income populations and Indian Tribes.

B.1 Integrate environmental justice principles and EJ actions into the HHS Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan (SSPP).

ASA

G

B.2 Conduct a vulnerability assessment of HHS’s programs to climate change and develop an adaptation strategy, as required by Executive Order 13514.

ASA/NIEHS/OASH

G

B.3 Promote the consideration of factors such as health, environment, distributive impacts and equity in the development of Federal agencies’ policies and program planning.

ASA/

ASPE

Y

B.4 Advance research that contributes to a better understanding of the relationship between health, sustainability, and environmental quality to support environmental justice efforts and initiatives.

NIEHS

G

B.5 Support research on potential health impacts of climate change, including the impacts of climate mitigation and adaptation measures that includes methodologies such as community-based participatory research and incorporates environmental justice principles.

NIEHS

G

B.6 Produce guidance for state, local, territorial, and tribal health departments on integrating extreme weather and public health surveillance systems with special emphasis on communities most vulnerable to changes in extreme weather patterns, including minority and low-income populations and Indian Tribes with disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures.

NCEH

G

B.7 Develop guidance on identifying the spatial and temporal extent of climate and extreme weather vulnerability and risk within communities containing existing environmental inequalities.

NCEH

Y

B.8 Develop guidance on how state, local, territorial, and tribal public health departments can adopt policies and programs that minimize climate-related health impacts among vulnerable populations, including minority and low-income populations and Indian Tribes with disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures.

NCEH

Y

B.9 Build community resilience and sustainable, stronger health and emergency response systems in at-risk populations with disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures to prevent or reduce emerging health threats and chronic health problems.

ASPR/

CDC

Y

B.10 Strengthen community partnerships, in particular among vulnerable populations, to organize adaptation measures to prevent health impacts of climate change at the local level.

NCEH

Y

C: Provide consultation and/or partner with other Federal departments, where appropriate and feasible, on environmental policies, programs and initiatives that may impact health and well-being, with particular attention to minority and low-income populations and Indian Tribes.

C.1 Collaborate, where appropriate and feasible, with Federal partners to advance a “health in all policies” approach and reduce disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures.

OASH

G

Education & Training

A: Educate the public, especially in communities with minority and low-income populations and Indian tribes with disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures, about environmental justice, environmental hazards, and healthy community environments.

A.1 Increase public awareness of and access to information on health and environmental justice by developing an HHS environmental justice website.

OASH

G

A.2 Partner with other Federal departments to develop and implement integrated educational outreach and intervention programs.

NIOSH

X

A.3 Prepare guidance for HHS-funded worker training programs that are designed to assist disadvantaged communities.

NIEHS

G

B: Enhance health professionals’ and human services providers’ education and training in environmental health and environmental justice.

B.1 Expand and promote educational outreach on health and environmental justice to primary health care and behavioral health care providers, other health professionals, public health professionals and the human services workforce.

ATSDR/ HRSA

Y

B.2 Incorporate environmental justice and environmental and occupational safety and health education in the training curricula.

OMH

Y

B.3 Increase partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

NIEHS/

NIMHD

Y

C: Increase the knowledge and understanding of health and environmental justice across HHS agencies and among HHS employees.

C.1 Develop and implement a training program for HHS employees on the principles and practice of environmental justice, including community engagement.

OASH

Y

Research

A: Increase the involvement of minority and low-income populations and Indian tribes with disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures in research and in data collection and utilization, and communicate findings to stakeholders.

A.1 Draft and implement guidance to HHS agencies conducting or funding research in partnership with minority and low-income populations and Indian Tribes with disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures.

HHS EJ WG

Y

A.2 Host a Health and Environmental Justice Workshop periodically in conjunction with disproportionately impacted communities.

HHS EJ WG

G

A.3 Increase public access to information about research and data by expanding HHS Environmental Justice web pages.

NLM

G

B: Identify and characterize environmental and occupational factors that have disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority and low-income populations and Indian Tribes.

B.1 Strengthen capacity for research on the health effects of disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures in minority and low-income populations and Indian Tribes.

NIMHD

G

C: Bolster the efforts of HHS, state, local, territorial, and tribal agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations, to collect, maintain, and analyze data on disproportionately high and adverse environmental and occupational exposures and on health effects in minority and low-income populations and Indian Tribes.

C.1 Promote inclusion of questions related to industry, occupation and other parameters of the workplace in HHS-supported surveys and other data collection instruments. Promote analysis of data related to occupational safety and health collected from HHS-supported surveys and other data collection instruments.

NIOSH

G

C.2 Partner with EPA and other Federal departments to review and update community mapping tools and other databases designed to identify minority and low-income populations and Indian Tribes with disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures and health effects.

NCEH / NIOSH

Y

C.3 Expand information on health disparities and environmental justice concepts on the National Center for Environmental Health’s (NCEH) National Environmental Public Health Tracking Network.

NCEH / NIOSH

G

Services

A: Increase the capacity of health professionals delivering care and services to minority and low-income populations and Indian tribes with disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures to prevent, diagnose, and treat medical and behavioral health conditions associated with adverse environmental exposures.

A.1 Promote inclusion and use of environmental and occupational exposure history in electronic health records (EHR).

ATSDR/

NIOSH

G

A.2 Promote the availability of specialty resources in environmental health to health care providers.

ATSDR

G

A.3 Improve the quality of behavioral health care received by minority and low-income populations and Indian Tribes with disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures.

SAMHSA

X

B: Identify minority and low-income populations and Indian tribes with disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures, as well as the physical and behavioral health conditions and concerns of communities affected by these exposures.

B.1 Evaluate the use of health impact assessments (HIA) in minority and low-income populations and Indian Tribes to achieve risk reduction and reduce health disparities.

NCEH

Y

C: Provide technical assistance and information resources to minority and low-income populations and Indian Tribes with disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures in order to empower communities to address identified health and human services needs.

C.1 Build community capacity to conduct community health assessments.

NCEH/

ATSDR

X

C.2 Assess health and human services needs for minority and low-income populations and Indian Tribes with disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures.

CDC/

ATSDR

G

C.3 Increase outreach to minority populations and low-income populations and Indian Tribes with disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures to raise their awareness of the availability of technical assistance for applying for HHS funding.

HRSA

G

D: Provide funding opportunities and technical assistance to advance the economic potential and social well-being of minority and low-income populations and Indian tribes with disproportionately high and adverse environmental exposures.

D.1 Expand funding opportunities, where appropriate and feasible, to underserved communities for economic development and social services.

ACF

G

[1] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Environmental Justice.”  http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/

[2] Executive Order No. 12898, 59 Fed Reg. 7629 (Feb. 11, 1994)

[3] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 1995 Environmental Justice Strategy, Washington, DC: U.S. DHHS, 1995.

[4] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “About the Secretary.” http://www.hhs.gov/secretary/about/introduction.html

[5] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 2012 Environmental Justice Strategy and Implementation Plan, Washington, DC: U.S., 2012.

Content created by Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH)
Content last reviewed on May 28, 2015