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Chapter 2
Organizational Environmental Stewardship Practices
2.1. DOT Environmental Policies and Mission Statements

Many state DOTs have begun to include environmental commitments in their organization's overall mission and policies. Recently revised DOT mission statements usually reference the agency's commitment to maintaining the state's quality of life, and may explicitly mention the environment. Environmental policy statements are typically more lengthy expressions of a DOT's environmental commitments. Both usually extend to the organization as a whole, and include construction and maintenance.

Typical environmental policies state the agency's recognition of the importance of environmental stewardship and commit the DOT to environmental protection, achieving or surpassing regulatory requirements, and/or contributing to environmental enhancement. Some reference a shift in values and organizational structure. Environmental policy statements written with an awareness of EMS requirements often include commitments to pollution prevention, efficient use of resources, evaluation, and continual improvement. Others commit the DOT to incorporating sound environmental practices into all parts of the agency's work, communicating expectations, and partnering or collaborating with other agencies and entities on achieving environmental goals of mutual interest.

Environmental policy statements provide a basis and core reference point for the other elements of state DOT environmental management systems and other environmental stewardship initiatives. Examples of environmental policies from these are listed in the Appendix.

Standards and Performance Measures for Environmental Policy Statements

Environmental policy statements are a required part of an internationally acceptable environmental management system. Section 4.2 of ISO 14001 enunciates a standard set of best practices for environmental policy statements, which says an organization's environmental policy should contain a minimum of three environmental commitments:

  • Continual improvement of system
  • Compliance with legal or other voluntary, non-legal requirements
  • Pollution prevention

Other criteria to consider in setting or evaluating the environmental policy may include:

  • Does it address the environmental impacts and opportunities of the business?
  • Does it set the course for the agency's environmental program, providing a framework for setting and reviewing environmental objectives or targets?
  • Is it documented, implemented, maintained, and communicated to all employees? How is it used to build employee awareness across the entire agency? Is the environmental policy consistently followed? Is implementation periodically reviewed and revised?
  • Is the policy available and accessible to the general public?
  • Did management approve the current version when it was issued? Does management take ownership for whether and to what extent implementation is occurring?
  • Did evidence show that significant impacts were considered when setting environmental objectives?

A recent evaluation of qualitative methods in policy analysis suggested evaluation of the following aspects as well: [N]

  • Were the needs, values, views and subjective experiences of different stakeholders identified in the policy making process?
  • Why, how, and under what conditions (and in which contexts) have the policies worked, or fail to work? What needed to occur in what order for a policy interventions to be successfully implemented?
  • What measures or surveys could be employed to determine outcomes?

Approaches to and Highlights from DOT Environmental Policy and Mission Statements

Highlights from state DOT environmental policies and commitment statements are included below.

Florida DOT's Environmental Mission

Florida DOT also elevated the agency's environmental commitment to inclusion in its one sentence mission statement. FDOT's mission commits the agency to "provide a safe transportation system that ensures the mobility of people and goods, enhances economic prosperity, and preserves the quality of our environment and communities." [N] Florida DOT's environmental policy is a more expansive expression of the commitment expressed in the agency's mission statement. [N]

Delaware DOT's Environmental Mission and Commitment to Implement a "Livable Delaware "

Delaware DOT (DelDOT)'s mission to provide a safe, efficient and environmentally sensitive transportation network. DelDOT is also involved in implementing a "Livable Delaware that strengthens communities and preserves quality of life." The Governor's "Livable Delaware" Executive Order seeks to actively manage where growth will physically occur and to accommodate a faster projected population growth rate than any northeastern state. Goals which DelDOT is responsible to help implement include: [N]

  • Direct investment and future development to existing communities, urban concentrations, and growth areas.
  • Protect important farmlands and protect and improve the state's land, air, and water and critical natural resource areas.
  • Promote mobility for people and goods through a balanced system of transportation options.
  • Coordinate public policy planning and decisions among state, counties and municipalities.

Maryland State Highway Administration's Environmental Mission

The Maryland State Highway Administration's (SHA) mission is to provide their customers with a safe, well-maintained and attractive highway system that offers mobility and supports Maryland 's communities, economy and environment. The agency's primary goal is to maintain excellence in the natural and human environment that it serves. The key elements of MDSHA's environmental policy are to: [N]

  • Meet or exceed all environmental laws and regulations applicable to MDSHA activities.
  • Incorporate and integrate environmental protection and enhancement measures in planning, design, construction and operations.
  • Protect and enhance all aspects of the natural and human environment whenever possible, using available state-of-the-art practices.
  • Support advancement in environmental protection technology through innovation and technology transfer.

New Jersey DOT Environmental Policy Statements

New Jersey 's (NJDOT) environmental policy commits the Department and its employees to act as "responsible stewards of the environment" and "find ways to improve New Jersey 's environment and the quality of life of its citizens, within its funded responsibilities for planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operation of our transportation network." [N]

New York State DOT's Environmental Mission

New York State DOT (NYSDOT) has incorporated the agency's environmental commitments into their agency's mission "to ensure our customers - those who live, work and travel in New York State - have a safe, efficient, balanced and environmentally sound transportation system." As part of this mission and as New York State's largest public works agency, NYSDOT has publicly expressed their obligation and responsibility to the people of New York to enhance, improve and protect the environment in accordance with state policies and objectives. Notably, the state DOT initiated a proactive approach and environmental initiative to advance state environmental policies and objectives, promote an environmental ethic throughout the Department, and strengthen relationships with environmental agencies and groups. "As an action-oriented agency, DOT can most effectively attain these goals by doing dedicated environmental work in support of its corporate environmental ethic. This, in turn, will advance a shift in attitudes. This will provide real environmental protection, assure staff that the agency has a strong environmental ethic and provide opportunities to engage the environmental community in positive joint undertakings that will demonstrate the Department's commitment." [N]

NYSDOT's environmental policy is available online. It commits the agency to become an "acknowledged leader" and gives notice that "Departmental operations, facilities and properties will be audited to ensure that the Department is conducting its business in keeping with our environmental stewardship values." [N] NYSDOT's initiative, procedures, and actions will be described in greater detail elsewhere in this report. [N]

VTrans Environmental Mission and Environmental Stewardship Ethic Policy Statement

VTrans vision is "to support Vermont's quality of life and economic well-being" as part of a mission "to work cooperatively to plan for and accommodate the need for movement of people and commerce in a safe, reliable, cost-effective, environmentally responsible, and equitable manner." [N] To support that core mission of environmental responsibility, VTrans established an VTrans Environmental Stewardship Ethic Policy Statement in October 2004. VTrans Environmental Policy "recognizes that environmental quality - clean water and air, scenic beauty, ecological diversity and protection of the state's historic character - are what Vermonters desire and are considered integral parts of the state's economic well-being." [N] VTrans' ethic and policy is guided by principles and supported by practices that apply to all of the agency's business activities. In particular, the policy calls for an annual work plan to be developed each year, as well as a report on the success of agency environmental initiatives. The policy is a further evolution of such DOT statements, promising "The Agency will aim to be a positive force in supporting the state's environmental quality and unique sense of place, and will strive to exceed state and federal environmental laws when practicable," though noting the agency is still subject to practicability, safety and resource constraints. Support practices specified in support of the environmental stewardship ethic policy say the agency will: [N]

  • Plan, design, construct and maintain VTrans-sponsored projects in compliance with federal and state environmental laws.
  • Work collaboratively with national, regional and local stakeholders including, federal and state regulatory agencies, regional planning entities, municipal officials, interest groups, and the general public.
  • Encourage the agency environmental stewardship ethic through continual VTrans staff education and training regarding state and federal environmental law and policy, as well as environmental research and technical advances.
  • Provide opportunities for continual staff feedback and input regarding how to best implement an agency environmental stewardship ethic.
  • Consider the initial costs of transportation investment alternatives as well as future costs over life of the investment.
  • Encourage the development of all transportation modes and an integrated seamless transportation system.
  • Conduct public outreach and education, including local governments and agency consulting engineers and contractors, regarding VTrans' environmental policy and initiatives.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's Environmental Policy

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's environmental policy expresses the agency's commitment "to protect, conserve, restore, and enhance the natural and human environment" in the context of the Cabinet's work, work in partnership with the public and other agencies. [N] The policy is a model that has been used by many other DOTs.

Maine DOT Environmental Policy Statement

The concept of environmental soundness is part of the Maine Department of Transportation (Maine DOT)'s core vision or mission statement. Maine DOT was also one of the first to develop and sign an environmental policy statement, which now serves as a basis for the agency's EMS. [N] Maine DOT's Environmental Policy is included in the Appendix. The current administration at Maine DOT is revising and updating this policy.

Mn/DOT's Commitment to "Context Sensitive" Approaches

It is Mn/DOT's policy to use a "Context Sensitive" approach to create excellence in transportation project development - an approach that incorporates design standards, safety measures, environmental stewardship, aesthetics and community sensitive planning and design. Mn/DOT Technical Memorandum No. 00-24-TS-03 outlines the department's commitment to CSD. The agency is incorporating context sensitive solutions into all aspects of transportation project development - planning, design, construction, and operation - through new policies, extensive research, and training programs.

North Carolina DOT and Environmental Stewardship Policy

The North Carolina Board of Transportation adopted the NCDOT Environmental Stewardship Policy in 2002. The policy expresses the agency's commitment to "planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, and managing an interconnected transportation system while striving to preserve and enhance our natural and cultural resources." It stresses the importance of balancing daily operations and environmental responsibility and strongly encourages employees to incorporate the principles of safety, environmental stewardship, and customer focus into their daily activities.

PennDOT's Green Plan Policy

PennDOT's agency-wide " Green Plan Policy " extends beyond compliance to pollution prevention, continual improvement, and measurable performance. PennDOT's Strategic Environmental Management Program (SEMP) efforts began with two key commitments by State and Department senior executives. At the state level, Executive Order 1998-1 , the Governor's Green Government Council, called on the agencies of the Commonwealth to incorporate "…environmentally sustainable practices, including Strategic Environmental Management, into Commonwealth government's planning, operations, policymaking and regulatory functions, and to strive for continuous improvement in environmental performance with the goal of zero emissions. Strategic Environmental Management includes and environmental management system with a strong pollution prevention and energy efficiency program, effective community involvement, measurable economic and environmental performance goals, environmental accounting, and life cycle analysis." [N]

Washington State DOT's Environmental Policy

Washington State DOT highlights the agency's environmental commitment and lays the groundwork for an Environmental Management System (EMS), by including those elements required by the International Organization for Standardization (See further discussion in section 2.3, Environmental Management Systems). WSDOT's environmental policy statement is readily accessible off the agency's main page on their agency's website.

Environmental Policy of the Nova Scotia DOT & Public Works, Canada

The Environmental Policy of the Nova Scotia, Canada, DOT & Public Works follows ISO 14001 guidelines for Environmental Management Systems, including commitments to demonstrate continual improvement and pollution prevention and meeting or exceeding legal requirements. The policy encourages and places responsibility for participation by all departmental employees in using best management practices and protecting and promoting environmental responsibility. Furthermore, the policy commits the agency to "resolve environmental issues by cooperating/forming partnerships with federal and provincial agencies, other public agencies, public interest groups and the private sector. [N]

New South Wales (NSW ), Australia Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA ) Environmental Policy

The New South Wales , Australia , Roads and Traffic Authority developed an environmental policy which serves as a basis for the Authority's EMS. [N] A copy is included in the Appendix. Directors of all functional areas within the RTA are signatories of the environmental policy, which was most recently signed and posted in 2001.

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Table of Contents
Chapter 2
Organizational Environmental Stewardship Practices
2.1 DOT Environmental Policies and Mission Statements
2.2 Environmental Strategic Planning at Transportation Agencies
2.3 Setting Objectives and Targets & Tracking Environmental Commitments
2.4 Environmental Management Systems - Benefits & Approaches
2.5 Operational Controls, Procedures, and Practices
2.6 Measuring Environmental Performance
2.7 Environmental Staffing, Roles, and Responsibilities
2.8 Environmental Training and Certification
2.9 Regional DOT Stewardship Practice Exchange & Discussion
Lists: Examples | Tables | Figures
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