EPA Announces $14.1 Million to Fund 133 Environmental Justice Grants

Puerto Rico Communities will Benefit

San Juan –This week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the award of $ 14.1 million in environmental justice (EJ) grant funding for 133 projects selected through Small Justice Grant programs. Environment (EJSG) and the Cooperative Agreement for Collaborative Problem Solving (EJCPS). Ninety-nine EJ Small Grant recipients were selected to receive up to $ 75,000 each, and 34 EJCPS grant recipients to receive up to $ 200,000 each after successful completion of the award process. Most of these environmental justice grants receive funds allocated through the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

“President Biden has made it clear that delivering environmental justice is a top priority for this Administration, especially in communities most gravely impacted by the pandemic and health outcome disparities from pollution,” said Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Thanks to the President and Congress, today’s environmental justice grants funded by the American Rescue Plan will provide critical support to our most overburdened and vulnerable communities.”

The 2021 EJ Small Grants selections will benefit communities in 37 states, as well as Washington DC and Puerto Rico. These ninety-nine projects cover a wide array of environmental justice issues including the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, air monitoring, indoor/outdoor air quality, food access, community planning, water treatment training, community agriculture, green jobs and infrastructure, emergency preparedness and planning, toxic exposures, water quality, and healthy homes projects.

Also, in support of President Biden’s Executive Orders 13985 and 14008 , EPA has for the first time created a designation exclusively for small nonprofit organizations, defined as having 10 or fewer full-time employees. This effort reflects the President’s Justice40 initiative defined in EO 14008 and ensures that grant resources reach organizations of lower capacity that historically struggle to receive federal funding. 83 of the organizations receiving an EJ Small Grant this year are small nonprofit organizations.

In addition, 7 EJ Small Grants will support EPA’s Ports Initiative by addressing air quality issues at coastal ports, inland ports, and rail yards. These projects help prepare community stakeholders to effectively engage with operators and other stakeholders of nearby port or rail facilities to influence decision-making that may impact diesel engine emissions and related air quality.

The 2021 EJ Collaborative Problem-Solving selections will benefit communities in 24 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These 34 projects address a breadth of environmental justice issues including the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, air monitoring, indoor/outdoor air quality, community education, EJ tool development, green jobs and infrastructure, food access, emergency preparedness and planning, toxic exposures, land reuse, water quality, and support of healthy homes. 

Examples of EJSG and EJCPS projects selected for funding through ARP include:

Bluetide Puerto Rico (San Juan, PR) – EJ Small Grant

This project intends to train the residents of the fishing communities in San Juan (Las Margaritas and Playita) and Loiza (Herrera) areas of Puerto Rico on waste management best practices and marine debris management resulting from natural disasters. This project will provide participating communities with waste management tools to prevent and reduce future marine debris and develop a community-adapted disaster prevention and response resilience plan through training and workshops. Furthermore, this project intends to increase public awareness and knowledge and change attitudes regarding environmental issues as well as behaviors that promote individual and community resilience

Center for Habitat Reconstruction (San Juan, PR) – Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program

The project aims to provide three targeted vulnerable communities within Aguas Buenas, Río Piedras and Canóvanas with education, training, and community planning with the goal of identification, prevention, and elimination of blighted properties and their environmental health risks. This Initiative will address code enforcement gaps, foster municipal-community partnerships, strengthen local legal frameworks, leverage private, public resources for continued employment, and provide a replicable model for other Puerto Rican communities.

The expected outcomes are increasing the number of community stakeholders committed to fighting against blight and the combating environmental health risks in the community. 

Background on the American Recuse Plan Appropriation to EPA

Earlier this year, EPA announced spending plans for the $100 million in ARP funding appropriated by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and health outcome disparities, with $50 million being designated to improve ambient air quality monitoring, and $50 million specifically designated for environmental justice to address disproportionate environmental or public health harms and risks in underserved communities through a range of local initiatives.

Of this $50 million ARP appropriation for EJ, $4.1 million went to support 21 EJ projects under the State/Tribal/Local EJ Cooperative Agreement (SEJCA) awards program. The additional EJSG and EJCPS selections announced today will account for approximately $9.55 million of ARP funds with additional funding provided through regular annual appropriations to EPA. Upcoming ARP-funded EJ grant activities will be announced after the EJSG and EJCPS awards are finalized.

To see the full listing of all 99 organizations receiving an EJSG and to learn more about EJSG, visit: https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/environmental-justice-small-grants-program

To see the full listing of all the selected 34 EJCPS projects and to learn more about EJCPS, visit: https://www.epa.gov/environmental-justice/environmental-justice-collaborative-problem-solving-cooperative-agreement-0.

To learn more about EJ at EPA, visit: https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 was signed into law on March 11, 2021. To learn more about ARP funding at EPA, visit: https://www.epa.gov/arp.

For up-to-date information about Environmental Justice funding opportunities, events, and webinars, subscribe to EPA’s Environmental Justice listserv by sending a blank email to: join-epa-ej@lists.epa.gov. Follow us on Twitter: @EPAEnvJustice.

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://facebook.com/eparegion2

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