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Environmental Justice Fact Sheet


Legislative Authority 

Executive Order 12898 issued February 11, 1994 requires each  Federal Agency to make Environmental Justice a part of its mission. Agencies are to identify and address disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority and low-income populations. Environmental Justice must be applied throughout the United States, its territories and possessions, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the Mariana Islands.

The President issued a Memorandum to the heads of all departments and agencies to underscore that certain provisions of the existing civil rights and environmental laws (Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, of 1964, the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), the Clean Air Act and the Freedom of Information Act), the Government in the Sunshine Act, and the Emergency-Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act help ensure that all persons in the community live in a safe and healthy environment.

Environmental Justice must be applied to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law. It assures that all populations are provided the opportunity to comment on issues before decisions are rendered. Environmental Justice allows all people to share in the benefits of, and not be excluded from or affected in a disproportionately high and adverse manner by, government programs and activities affecting human health or the environment.

Program Operations

Departmental Regulation 5600-2, issued December 15, 1997, provides direction to agencies for integrating environmental justice considerations into USDA programs and activities in compliance with Executive Order 12898.

Environmental Justice efforts within NRCS will ensure that the requirements of USDA’s environmental justice implementation strategy are incorporated into the agency’s programs and activities and ensure the agency fully complies with Executive Order 12898 and the Departmental Regulations 5600-2.

Current Issues:

NRCS developed an Environmental Justice strategy to focus on programs and will:

  • Provide training to employees
  • Ensure that Environmental Justice is addressed in all policy, procedures, and guidelines.
  • Apply environmental justice universally.
  • Provide technical/financial assistance for remedial work caused by NRCS/Partnership actions, within funding constraints.
  • Provide assistance for remedial work related to natural resources with NRCS's expertise and authority.


NRCS has supported Environmental Justice projects such as:

  • Minority Environment Association –Urban Earth Day 1995. NRCS provided over $100,000 to assist with Urban Earth Day efforts to bring Environmental Justice or injustice awareness to young people. Educational information and technical expertise were provided to discuss the interest for a better environment.
  • Tuskegee University, 1993-1994. NRCS funded $15,000 for Environmental Justice research. Students collected data in the communities that were impacted by environmental problems.
  • Chicago Urban Gardens – In 1995 $25,000 was provided to educate and train young people on conservation.
  • Anacostia Earth Day 1995-1996. The project supported participation of over 1,000 young people. The NRCS booth displayed various soil samples, which caught the attention of 75% of the young people attending.
  • Tupelo Mississippi “Pine Grove Community” project – A total of $100,000 was provided for a surface water management project to ensure better water quality.
  • NRCS Environmental Justice brochure was produced and distributed to all employees. It is available to the public in NRCS offices.
  • Recognition and management of environmental justice issues has been identified as a training need for NRCS.