- The U.S. EPA has announced about $128 million in funding for 186 different environmental justice projects, including some addressing waste diversion, illegal dumping prevention and community recycling efforts.
- Community-based organizations received grants between $150,000 and $500,000 under the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving program. Local governments received up to $1 million as part of the Government-to-Government funding program.
- Grants will fund projects such as recycling dropoff events in Nashville, Tennessee; anti-dumping initiatives in Memphis, Tennessee, and in New Mexico; an SB 1383-related school food waste diversion education program in California; public permitting outreach efforts in New Jersey and other initiatives, according to a project summary.
The Biden administration has made environmental justice a significant priority, calling for more federal funding to support community-based projects that combat climate change and pollution in underserved areas. The EPA received $2.8 billion from the Inflation Reduction Act to fund such projects, and the new grants announced Tuesday are part of that funding pool. It’s the EPA’s first time awarding funds under the two new community and government programs.
The grants aim to address diverse and sometimes overlapping challenges such as disproportionate air and water pollution, lack of access to healthy food, and exposure to climate impacts such as wildfires, EPA officials said during a call with reporters on Monday.
Numerous grants will support projects with waste and recycling aspects. The New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance’s $500,000 grant will help educate residents on “how to advocate for their community’s best interest” when certain facilities apply for permits to build or expand.
New Jersey’s environmental justice law, which has implications for the waste and recycling industries, requires some facility operators to host in-depth community meetings and public comment periods when applying for certain permits. Environmental justice communities “are historically difficult to reach, engage and organize, which is why grassroots organizations are critical to this mission,” the alliance said in the grant summary.
Nonprofit Grades of Green will use its $500,000 grant to work with the Inglewood Unified School District in California to create student-led environmental education programs and help meet SB 1383 requirements to establish food waste diversion programs and recover and donate edible food in the district.
Meanwhile, the Tennessee Environmental Council will receive $500,000 to expand its “recycling roundup” dropoff program meant to divert items from the landfill such as polypropylene food storage containers, glass bottles, electronics, batteries and mattresses.
The city of Memphis will spend its nearly $1 million grant to address “unrelenting illegal dumping” in several underserved neighborhoods by installing “convenience centers” for commonly dumped items like tires and mattresses and finding local recyclers for such items.
The tribal community of Santo Domingo Pueblo in New Mexico will use its $539,453 grant to eliminate open dumps by conducting cleanup efforts, promoting “tire amnesty” and free trash pickup days, and educating residents about the dangers of open dumping.
In Philadelphia, a $500,000 grant to the John Bartram Association will help support youth workforce development programs meant to address illegal dumping, organize neighborhood cleanups and planting trees to reduce urban island heat effects.
Other related programs include community outreach in Waterbury, Connecticut, to increase recycling participation, funding to support youth green jobs programs in Baltimore and a community scoping project to identify waste diversion needs in rural Maryland, among others.
The EPA plans to announce recipients of more environmental justice-related grants and technical assistance programs before the end of the year, officials said. The EPA plans to announce recipients of $550 million in funding from its Thriving Communities grantmaking program and recipients of $200 million in technical assistance for community-based organizations, officials said. It plans to open applications for Community Change Grants, a collective $2 billion in funding also funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, in “early autumn.”