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US provide $550m to battle pollution in disadvantaged communities

President Joe Biden’s administration has announced that it is awarding $550m in grants to help reduce pollution and provide access to clean energy in disadvantaged communities.

The money is part of $3 billion included for environmental justice grants in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), President Biden’s signature legislation that will spend nearly $369 billion on clean energy and climate priorities.

 

Last September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a new department focused on the needs of low-income and minority communities that have been overburdened by pollution. It will oversee the distribution of the environmental justice grants.

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said: ‘Over the last two years I’ve traveled to overburdened and underserved communities and their message to me has been clear – residents have suffered far too long without access to crucial federal funding and resources. Thanks to President Biden’s historic investments in America, including the largest ever investment in environmental justice, we’re removing barriers and moving faster to deliver this unprecedented relief to the communities who need it most.’

Under its new Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking programme, the EPA will fund organisations known as grantmakers (chosen via competition) who then take responsibility for distributing the money to community-led projects in areas that have historically suffered air and water pollution. They award subgrants, implement a tracking and reporting system, provide resources and support to communities, all in collaboration with EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights.

The Grantmaking programme has been designed to reduce barriers to the grants application process that communities have traditionally faced and increase the efficiency of the awards process for environmental justice grants. 11 such groups (they may be non-profits, tribal communities or Universities) will be chosen and funded $50m each over a year period.

Speaking to Reuters, Robin Morris Collin, senior advisor for environmental justice at the EPA, said: ‘The money that we have been entrusted with is more than triage. It is more than fixing a small problem. The scale and the vision of this investment that Congress has given us will change these communities.’

Image: © Les Stone / Greenpeace

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