How Alabama is Addressing Environmental Justice

Table of

How Does Alabama Define Environmental Justice and Environmental Justice Communities?

Environmental Justice Definitions

Neither the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) nor the Alabama legislature have officially defined environmental justice in a regulation or statute. In ADEM’s “Community Engagement” document, the agency utilized EPA’s definition of 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.”

The Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPCGB) also utilizes EPA’s definition of environmental justice. The RPCGB has identified equity emphasis areas (EEAs), which as of 2019 it defined as census block groups within the MPA having a nonwhite population greater than 50% of the total population or block groups where the estimated median household income is less than $30,630.” The agency compares the burdens and benefits of transportation projects in EEAs and in other areas of the state.

Environmental Justice Mapping Tools

ADEM has an environmental justice mapping tool in the form of an ArcGIS overlay that divides Alabama into Minority/Low Income, Minority, Low Income, and Non-Environmental Justice Areas. ADEM also trains its staff on the use of the EPA’s EJSCREEN mapping tool.

The RPCGB also has maps of environmental justice areas.

How Does Alabama Consider Environmental Justice in its Substantive Actions?

Environmental Justice as a Policy of the Environmental Agency or Across All Agencies


Consideration of Environmental Justice in Permitting

There are administrative permitting decisions finding that ADEM lacks statutory authority to consider racial and economic demographics in the permit application process.

Though, Alabama has a statute limiting the number of commercial hazardous waste treatment facilities or disposal sites to one per county. The statute also prohibits any new commercial hazardous waste treatment facilities or disposal sites unless approved by the Legislature after joint resolution after consideration of factors including “the social and economic impacts of the proposed facility on the affected community, including changes in property values, community perception, and other costs.”

Consideration of Environmental Justice in Enforcement


Consideration of Environmental Justice in Land Use

Alabama’s regulations concerning the ranking of unauthorized dump sites for remediation have a non-exclusive list of factors to be considered, which includes the location of the site in an area of minority and/or low-income populations pursuant to Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations.”

State Environmental Policy Act “Mini-NEPA”


Dedicated Funding to Environmental Justice Communities


Consideration of Cumulative Impacts


Prohibitions on Disparate Impact Discrimination


Established Environmental Rights


How Does Alabama Address Environmental Justice in its Procedures?

Environmental Justice as Part of Environmental Agency’s Mission


Environmental Justice as Part of Other Agency’s Mission


Processes and Procedures (including Title VI)

Non-Discrimination Policy

The Nondiscrimination Coordinator will process complaints alleging discrimination by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, retaliation or intimidation against any individual or group.

Grievance Procedures


Enhanced Public Participation and Information Access

ADEM’s “What’s Happening in Your County” tool provides information about public notices, permit requests, public hearings, and schedules for meetings of the AEMC.

Language Access

ADEM provides an integrated machine translated version of its website. The bottom of the home webpage also includes a “Translations” link to a page with statements in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Korean that, “[i]f you speak another language, language assistance services are available to you in your language. Please email the Department at and identify the assistance you need in your language and we will assist you.”

Consultation with Indigenous Communities and Tribal Nations


Governmental Environmental Justice Structures, Positions, and Funding Streams

Environmental Justice Coordinating Agency


Environmental Justice Coordinator

ADEM has an internal Non-Discrimination Coordinator. The site provides a document on “Nondiscrimination Grievance Investigation Procedures” which describes in detail how complaints are received and adjudicated.

Environmental Justice Advisory Board


Funding for Environmental Justice


Additional Alabama Environmental Justice Provisions

Since 2007, ADEM has provided formal environmental justice training to all staff. In addition, as of 2006 ADEM reported that Environmental Justice Coordinators are assigned to each of ADEM’s air, land, and water media divisions and are overseen by the Deputy Director. These Environmental Justice Coordinators, however, are not identified on the current website.
ADEM maintains on its website a “Community Engagement” document which identifies agency projects and initiatives, some of which focus on environmental justice communities.

Alabama Environmental Justice Contacts

Marilyn G. Elliot
ADEM Non-Discrimination Coordinator
Non-Discrimination Coordinator
Alabama Department of Environmental Management
P.O. Box 301463
Montgomery, Alabama 36130-1463
(334) 271-7700

Where to Find Alabama Environmental Justice Laws, Policies, and Tools

Constitutional Provisions


Executive Orders


Legislation and Statutes

ALA CODE 22-30-5.1.


Ala. Admin. Code 335-13-11-.04(f).


ADEM “Community Engagement” document.

Mapping Tools

Environmental Justice Map Server.
Map Layers Prepared by the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham.