In 2022, the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) updated its Participation Plan to include two key changes:
- Include process and procedures for conducting video or teleconferencing – This blended communication effort deploys both in-person outreach and virtual public involvement (VPI) approaches when appropriate.
- New criteria for defining Environmental Justice (EJ) communities – As a two-step process, the definition of target groups and areas first involves identifying the general distribution of each EJ population group. Second, where each group is most concentrated is defined. Where the concentration of an EJ population group meets or exceeds 50 percent of the regional average and has an EJ population of more than 250 individuals, the EJ population is considered to be part of a target group and area.
View the 2022 Participation Plan (PDF)
The Role of the Participation Plan in OKI’s Planning Processes
For many years OKI has had an active public participation process. Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) planning regulations require an expanded participation approach that includes public/community outreach as well as consultations with various agencies at all levels. OKI has adopted the FAST Act language that refers to this document as the OKI Participation Plan. The Plan is an expansion of the OKI Policy for Environmental Justice and clarifies the outreach process for the various planning processes and plans, such as the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (Plan), the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), or Corridor and Special Studies. Additionally, the Participation Plan highlights the general provisions for public meetings; and it provides maps identifying the Environmental Justice population groups for Minority, Low Income, Elderly, Individuals with Disabilities and Zero-Car households to show where the heaviest concentration of these population groups is located.
Working with state and federal planning partners, OKI through its Participation Plan continues to identify the appropriate level of public participation depending upon the project type and level of modification for both the TIP and the Plan. The Participation Plan is updated at least every four years.
Environmental Justice (EJ)
In 1994 President Bill Clinton issued Executive Order 12898 (E.O. 12898) to ensure that federal funds are used fairly and without discrimination. In 2003 OKI adopted a policy for Environmental Justice that has been incorporated into the OKI Participation Plan. This policy expands OKI’s efforts to involve the public in its transportation decision-making. It also adds provisions for assessing the equity of transportation investments in its eight-county region. The policy is focused on intensifying OKI’s outreach efforts, particularly as it relates to Minority and Low Income population groups, as well as the Elderly, Individuals with Disabilities and Zero-Car households. OKI established its EJ Advisory Committee in 2000.
Learn more about the Environmental Justice Program
What is Environmental Justice?
“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. Fair treatment means that no group of people, including racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic group should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, municipal, and commercial operations or the execution of federal, state, local and tribal programs and policies,” U.S. EPA Office of Environmental Justice.
Is Environmental Justice a New Requirement?
No. Recipients of Federal financial assistance are required to certify and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) must ensure nondiscrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and many other laws, regulations, and policies. As recent as May 2, 2012 DOT updated DOT Order 5610.2(a) in support of E.O. 12898.
Title VI and Environmental Justice Address Which Groups?
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. DOT Order 5610.2(a) on Environmental Justice and E.O. 12898 only list persons belonging to the following population groups: Minority and Low Income. The Elderly population and People with Disabilities are included in FAST Act, but they are not required to be addressed under EJ. Zero-Car households are a logical and reasonable extension of EJ. However, by virtue of its commitment to the intent of EJ, OKI continues to expand its transportation planning process to include all five population groups — Minority, Low Income, Elderly, People with Disabilities and Zero-Car households.
Learn about the TITLE VI PROGAM
How Does Environmental Justice Improve Transportation Decision Making?
Concern for EJ should be integrated into every transportation decision — from the first thought about a transportation plan to post-construction operations and maintenance. Properly implemented, EJ principles and procedures improve all levels of transportation decision making. This approach will:
- Result in better transportation decisions that meet the needs of all people.
- Facilitate the design of transportation facilities that fit more harmoniously into communities.
- Enhance the public participation process; strengthen community-based partnerships, and provide Minority and Low Income population groups with opportunities to learn about and improve the quality and usefulness of transportation in their lives.
- Improve data collection, monitoring, and analysis tools that assess the needs of, and analyze the potential impacts on Minority and Low Income population groups.
- Enable OKI to partner with other public and private programs to leverage transportation-agency resources to achieve a common vision for communities.
- Help avoid disproportionately high and adverse impacts on Minority and Low Income population groups