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The Facts on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

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.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Protecting Civil Rights: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in all programs or activities receiving federal funding. Title VI does not include income level as a protected classification. Title VI allows persons to file administrative complaints with federal departments and agencies alleging discrimination based on race, color, or national origin by recipients of federal funds.  Recipient means, for the purposes of this regulation, any state or its political subdivision, any instrumentality of a state or its political subdivision, any public or private agency, institution, organization, or other entity, or any person to which Federal financial assistance is extended directly or through another recipient, including any successor, assignee, or transferee of a recipient, but excluding the ultimate beneficiary of the assistance. 

Fulfilling Responsibilities Under The Civil Rights Laws: Under Title VI, all federal agencies, including EPA, are required to ensure that federal funds do not subsidize programs or activities that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or national origin. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) oversees implementation of Title VI throughout the federal government, and requires departments and agencies to develop regulations and guidance under Title VI. In 1973, EPA issued Title VI implementing regulations (PDF), (11 pp, 40 K,About PDF) as required by law, in close consultation with DOJ. These regulations require EPA's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to process and review administrative complaints filed under Title VI.

Protecting Public Health And Environment While Facilitating Redevelopment: EPA funds state and local environmental programs that, in turn, make permitting and enforcement decisions. A small fraction of these decisions have given rise to the Title VI complaints filed with EPA since the first one in 1992. EPA is firmly committed to continuing its work with community leaders, state and local governments, and businesses to facilitate economic redevelopment while ensuring strong protections of public health and the environment and basic civil rights.

Involving The Public In EPA's Title VI Program: EPA's OCR has a responsibility to evaluate Title VI complaints in a fair and balanced way. To ensure full public awareness of EPA's approach to these complaints, EPA released its Interim Guidance for Investigating Title VI Administrative Complaints Challenging Permits in February 1998. The Interim Guidance outlines an internal process for how OCR expects to process and investigate Title VI administrative complaints involving EPA recipient's permitting actions. Many of the complaints filed with OCR allege discrimination in state environmental permitting programs. The Interim Guidance does NOT create any new legal rights or obligations. After reviewing public comments submitted on the Interim Guidance and meeting with stakeholders, EPA prepared a draft revised version of the guidance. EPA released the Draft Revised Guidance for Investigating Title VI Administrative Complaints Challenging Permits in June, 2000, with a 60 day comment period following publication in the Federal Register.

The Interim Guidance provided a starting point to open up a dialogue and bring together business leaders, community leaders, and state and local officials to help shape policies. To facilitate this process, Administrator Browner established a Title VI Implementation Advisory Committee -- comprised of state and local officials, tribal representatives, businesses, environmental justice groups, and others -- to suggest approaches for EPA recipients that address Title VI concerns early in development decisions. EPA believes that these approaches can enable communities to have the input to which they are entitled while providing state and local decision makers and businesses the certainty they seek. The committee delivered its recommendations to the Administrator in April 1999. EPA also released a first draft of external guidance for EPA recipients, with a 60 day public comment period beginning upon publication in the Federal Register.