Environmental Equity: Non-Discrimination in TCEQ Processes
The TCEQ is committed to protecting the health of the citizens of Texas and its environment. We address environmental equity (also known as environmental justice) concerns for all Texans, including low-income and minority communities across the state, so that all Texans can fully participate in decision-making processes and enjoy the benefits of our environmental programs.
We do not allow discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, or disability in the administration of our programs or activities, as required by federal and state laws and regulations.
Our Environmental Equity Program aims to:
- Help Texas residents and neighborhood groups participate in the decision-making and regulatory processes;
- Serve as your TCEQ contact to address concerns about environmental injustice;
- Serve as a link for communications between the community, neighboring industries, and state government;
- Thoroughly consider your concerns and handle them fairly; and
- Ensure that all people receive equal benefit from environmental regulations and protection.
How You Can Participate
We have many ways for you to participate in our decision-making processes, including the following:
- Our Environmental Permitting: Participating in the Process page helps you know your rights and responsibilities in the permitting process.
- Our Participating in Rulemaking page explains how you can find out about and comment on new and changing rules.
- For many permits or rulemaking actions that require public notice, you can attend public meetings or hearings and submit oral or written comments anytime during the public comment period.
- Public notices published in local newspapers by applicants seeking permits are posted on our website. The public notice will tell you how to submit public comments and requests to the Office of the Chief Clerk online, by U.S. mail, or in person.
- In public notices, we tell you in English—and in Spanish when needed—how to call our Public Education Program hotline at 1-800-687-4040 for more information about the public notice and what it means.
- Public notices also include a link to the TCEQ website.
How the TCEQ Can Help You
We offer special accommodations, including the following:
- Every TCEQ commission meeting agenda states that persons with disabilities who plan to attend a TCEQ commission meeting (also called an agenda) and who may need aids or services such as interpreters, readers, large print, or braille, must contact the Office of the Chief Clerk at 512-239-3300 at least six work days before the agenda, so that we can make arrangements.
- Commission meeting agendas also state that people who need help from an interpreter along with their oral presentation at a commission meeting must contact the Office of the Chief Clerk at 512-239-3300 at least five work days before the agenda so that we can make arrangements.
- All TCEQ commission meetings (agendas) are broadcast over the Internet and can be watched on any computer or mobile device.
- All of our public notices instruct persons with disabilities who need special accommodations at a public meeting to call the Office of the Chief Clerk at 512-239-3300 or 1-800-RELAY-TX (TDD) at least one week before the meeting.
- We determine when public notices should be bilingual or multi-lingual, where these notices should be published, and when translators should attend hearings. Also, we offer Spanish documents, such as those detailing how to report environmental problems, how to participate in environmental permitting, and how to get environmental program assistance, and we list them online on our Information Available in Spanish and Bilingual Documents pages. (See 30 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §39.405(h), governing alternative language public notice requirements, and 30 TAC §39.604(e), 30 TAC §330.57(i)(5), 30 TAC §330.69(b)(3), and 30 TAC §326.73(a)(7), governing alternative language sign-posting requirements.)
- Sometimes we require permit applicants to publish a notice bilingually. Although it is an applicant's responsibility to do so, we often offer Spanish templates and tools. We also offer an English-Spanish glossary to make our translations of both general information and regulatory documents consistent.
- We also offer many of our TCEQ publications in Spanish.
How to Report a Concern About Discrimination
If you believe that you've experienced discrimination prohibited under Title VI and related statutes, you may submit your concern to our nondiscrimination coordinator at the following address and phone and fax numbers:
Environmental Equity (MC 105)
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 13087
Austin, TX 78711-3087
Please keep in mind that the more specific you are in your allegations, the more it helps us in evaluating your concern.
As noted at the top of the page, we must comply with the nondiscrimination requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, implemented by 40 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 7.
More about Environmental Justice
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
As a recipient of federal funding, the TCEQ must follow Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in all federally assisted programs. Title VI, 42 U.S.C. §2000D states: “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
The regulations of Title VI apply not only to intentional discrimination but also to policies and practices that have a discriminatory effect. See 40 CFR 7 for additional information.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA), Office of Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Title VI among agencies that receive federal funds. In carrying out these duties, the OCR handles Title VI complaints filed with the EPA, including those with environmental justice concerns.
Executive Order 12898
On Feb. 11, 1994, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12898, "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations," directing agencies that receive federal funding to focus attention on the environmental and human health conditions in minority communities and low-income communities. Environmental justice cases commonly use Title VI as a legal basis.
The EPA defines environmental justice 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. Fair treatment means that no group of people, including a 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.