By Shannon Kelleher
The United States is allocating about $100 million in grant funding to aid communities struggling with polluted air, unsafe drinking water, and climate change impacts in a move that marks the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s largest-ever investment in environmental justice.
“For decades, too many communities, particularly low-income communities and communities of color, have borne the burden of climate and environmental pollution,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a press briefing Tuesday. “We also know that too many of these communities have faced barrier after barrier trying to access the federal funds they need and deserve. This administration has committed to putting an end to that injustice.”
The EPA plans include providing funds for state and local governments and tribes to use in collaboration with community organizations to address environmental and/or public health issues at the local level and to develop tools and processes that integrate environmental justice considerations into government programs.
To be considered for funding, applicants must submit proposals by April 10. Regan expects applicants awarded grants to receive their funding by this fall.
“I’m really excited that that amount of money has been allocated,” said Mildred McClain, executive director of The Harambee House nonprofit in Savannah, Georgia, which focuses on improving environmental conditions in African American communities. “It’s a good start. But of course I would say from a community standpoint that we need much, much more.”
Regan acknowledged that the $100 million is only a fraction of the $3 billion allocated for environmental and climate justice block grants authorized under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and said to “stay tuned” for “additional grant opportunities in the months to come.”