BY BLANCHE HARDY
Calling it the largest single investment in environmental justice in history, the Biden Administration in late November announced $2 billion in grant funding designated for environmental and climate justice community change as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, Investing in America Agenda.
The funding will support community-driven projects that deploy clean energy, strengthen climate resilience, and build capacity for communities to tackle environmental and climate justice challenges, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Community Change Grants will go directly to impacted communities and are designed to advance efforts to achieve a healthier, safer, and more prosperous future for all, according to a news release. The deadline to apply is November 24.
“Throughout my Journey to Justice tour, I’ve heard from residents and advocates calling for resources to support local solutions in communities that have long been overlooked and forgotten,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Today, thanks to President Biden’s commitment to investing in communities that have long struggled to access federal funding, we are delivering on these calls to action. This historic, unprecedented funding has the promise to turn disadvantaged and overburdened areas into healthy, resilient, and thriving communities for current and future generations.”
The goal of the Justice40 Initiative is to push 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are deemed “marginalized, underserved, and overburdened” by pollution. This grant program is designed to deliver 100 percent of the program benefits to these designated communities. An additional $200 million of Inflation Reduction Act funding is being allocated to provide technical assistance to applicants and grant recipients.
“For far too long, communities that have borne the brunt of power plant and industrial pollution have been left out and left behind,” said John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation. “The Inflation Reduction Act and President Biden’s Justice40 initiative change that by bringing new investment, clean energy, and good-paying jobs to disadvantaged communities.”
The Community Change Grants Notice of Funding Opportunity is open and will be administered through EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, allowing time for applicants to pursue technical assistance, and possibly reapply, if necessary. EPA is encouraging applicants to apply as early as possible.
Activities to be performed under the grants are expected to fall under the following categories: climate resiliency and adaptation; climate and health risks mitigation; community-led air, water, and waste pollution monitoring, prevention, and remediation; investment in low- and zero-emission technologies and infrastructure; pollution reduction workforce development; reduction of indoor pollution; and facilitating engagement of disadvantaged communities in state and federal processes. More information can be found at https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/biden-harris-administration-announces-2-billion-fund-environmental-and-climate-justice.