Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced nearly $2 million to fund projects across Utah that advance environmental justice as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality and the Town of Bluff, Utah, will each receive funding for projects to ensure disadvantaged communities that have historically suffered from underinvestment have access to clean air and water and climate resilience solutions in alignment with the Biden-Harris administration’s Justice40 Initiative.
Thanks to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act—the largest climate investment in U.S. history—this funding is a part the largest investment ever announced under these two longstanding EPA programs. This is the first in a series of environmental justice grant announcements the agency will announce before the end of the year.
“No President has invested more in environmental justice than President Biden, and under his leadership we’re removing longstanding barriers and meaningfully collaborating with communities to build a healthier future for all,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Together, these community-driven projects will improve the health, equity, and resilience of communities while setting a blueprint for local solutions that can be applied across the nation.”
“These Environmental Justice grants will address local needs and challenges across a diverse set of communities in Utah,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “We are proud to support projects identified by our state, local and nonprofit partners and bring positive change to communities disproportionately impacted by pollution.”
The grants announced today deliver on President Biden’s commitment to advance equity and justice throughout the United States. The two grant programs directly advance the President’s transformational Justice40 initiative to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.
The Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving (EJCPS) Program
EPA’s EJCPS program provides financial assistance to eligible organizations working to address local environmental or public health issues in their communities. The program builds upon President Biden’s Executive Orders 13985 and 14008, creating a designation of funds exclusively for small nonprofit organizations, which are defined as having 5 or fewer full-time employees, thus ensuring that grant resources reach organizations of lower capacity that historically struggle to receive federal funding. Eleven of the organizations selected for EJCPS this year are small nonprofit organizations, receiving over $1.6 million in total.
Environmental Justice Government-to-Government (EJG2G)
EPA’s EJG2G provides funding at the state, local, territorial, and Tribal level to support government activities in partnership with community-based organizations that lead to measurable environmental or public health impacts in communities disproportionately burdened by environmental harms.
EPA EJG2G grant selections in Utah include the following:
- The Utah Department of Environmental Quality will receive approximately $1 million to address air pollution inequities in underserved urban, rural and tribal communities in Utah through radon testing, remediation and mitigation, and enhanced particle and ozone pollution monitoring using low-cost sensors.
- The Town of Bluff, Utah, will receive approximately $1 million for a project that will enable the Town of Bluff and Utah Diné Bikéyah, an Indigenous-led non-profit organization, to work together to revitalize the jointly owned Cooperative Cultural Center building at 630 E. Black Locust Avenue in Bluff. Due to its age, the building requires extensive renovations including the installation of a fire suppression sprinkler system; removal or encapsulation of asbestos floor tiles and insulation; replacement of ceilings and paint; bathroom remodeling for ADA compliance; and updated security and communication systems.
From day one of his administration, President Biden has made achieving environmental justice a top priority. And in August 2022, Congress passed, and President Biden signed, the Inflation Reduction Act into law, creating the largest investment in environmental and climate justice in U.S. history. EPA received $3 billion in appropriations to provide grants and technical assistance for activities advancing environmental and climate justice.
Under the Inflation Reduction Act, EPA has launched and expanded innovative programs to provide more support than ever before to communities that unjustly bear the burdens of environmental harm and pollution. This includes the $177 million for the creation of 16 Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (EJ TCTACs) to remove barriers to federal resources and help communities pursue funding opportunities like those made available through President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda. EPA has also launched and will award funds through the $550 million Thriving Communities Grantmaking Program before the end of 2023.