Funding for Environmental Justice is coming. Will it reach communities most in need?
The first $100 million in environmental justice grants from last year's Inflation Reduction Act will soon be available, according to EPA chief Michael Regan. They are the first of an anticipated $3 billion in block grants that Congress created last August as part of President Biden's landmark climate bill. More than 60 Democrats wrote to the White House in September to improve its "Justice40" project by ensuring additional cash does not exacerbate pollution in poor neighborhoods. Regan said the new environmental justice and civil rights office's 200 staffers "will be the eyes, the ears, the brains" behind how it is spent and would help communities qualify for awards. The EPA said $30 million would go to community-based nonprofit organizations and $40 million to state and local governments to spend with community partners. Federally recognized tribes will get $20 million and U.S. territories and remote tribes $10 million. Grant applicants must apply by April 10, and Regan said some projects could start by October 1.