A huge tranche of federal funding is on the way to help low-income communities of color fight pollution across the United States.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it’s making $550 million available to fund community projects that reduce pollution in overburdened communities. The latest funding builds on previous efforts from the EPA to correct environmental injustices, including another $100 million in project grants announced in January.
The money comes from the landmark climate spending bill that President Joe Biden signed into law last year, which earmarked some $3 billion for the EPA to put toward environmental justice block grants.
The agency will appoint a variety nonprofits to administer the $550 million grants over a three-year period starting no later than early 2024, either by themselves or in partnership with other nonprofits, tribal governments, or universities.
Together, the grants are intended to advance the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative - a push to deliver 40 percent of the benefits of federal climate investments to communities that are overburdened by pollution and vulnerable to climate change. Research shows that people of color face disproportionate exposure to hazardous air pollution and contaminated drinking water, and historic disinvestment in low-income areas and Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous communities has put them at greater risk of climate disasters like heat waves and flooding.
Underserved communities “have suffered far too long without access to crucial federal funding and resources,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.
It remains to be seen what kind of projects will be kickstarted by the EPA’s latest $550 million, but experts have already applauded the scale of the funding.
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