Environmental Justice

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) uses the definition from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to define environmental justice. The EPA defines Environmental Justice (EJ) 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 no group of people should bear a disproportionate share of the negative environmental consequences resulting from industrial, governmental and commercial operations or policies.

Meaningful involvement means:

  • People have an opportunity to participate in decisions about activities that may affect their environment and/or health;
  • The public's contribution can influence the regulatory agency's decision;Community concerns will be considered in the decision making process; and
  • Decision makers will seek out and facilitate the involvement of those potentially affected.

TDEC promotes environmental justice as part of our requirements under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and ensuring nondiscrimination in our programs and activities. TDEC strives for the fair and equitable treatment of every community to ensure that decisions and actions do not have a disproportionate impact on communities with environmental justice concerns. The Department is committed to protecting the health of Tennessee's citizens and its environment, and to promoting environmental equity in the administration of its programs to the extent it may do so legally and practicably.

Environmental Justice FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

TDEC's Office of Policy and Planning has developed a document to address commonly asked questions about environmental justice and how we apply EJ principles to our work at TDEC. 


EPA's EJScreen

EJScreen is EPA's environmental justice mapping and screening tool that provides a nationally consistent dataset and approach for combining environmental and demographic socioeconomic indicators. EJScreen is the EJ mapping tool used by TDEC. 

Technical Assistance

Technical Assistance for EPA's Region 4 is available through RTI International. Through a network of state and national partners, the center provides training and support to communities working toward environmental justice.

Public Participation

TDEC's Office of External Affairs work with stakeholders and the public on concerns across the state. Public participation opportunities are available to provide feedback on permits, rulemaking, and other programs. 

EPA Grant Opportunities

EPA provides grants, funding, and technical assistance to advance environmental justice and benefit underserved and overburdened communities. 


EPA Environmental Justice

EPA's  Environmental Justice website provides additional information about EJ, including grants, resources, history, and community stories. 


Justice40 Initiative from White House

The Justice40 Initiative directs that 40% of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities. 


Rachael Maitland

Office of Policy & Planning
Phone: 423-836-8925

Jennifer Tribble

Office of Policy & Planning
Phone: 615-210-7139