$100 Million Available from EPA for Environmental Justice Work
Green roofs. School electrification. Community resilience planning. These are the types of projects the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be funding in 2023 as part of the Justice40 Initiative.
Conceived soon after President Joe Biden took office in 2021, Justice40 is a commitment by the administration to designate 40% of climate-change investments and other environmental funding to “disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution.” The grants being made this year, totaling $100 million, are just a sliver of the $3 billion to be disbursed under the program by the new EPA Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights. Applications are due in April, and projects will begin in October.
EPA has established two different grant programs with largely the same goals; the difference is in who receives the funding. State, local, and tribal governments can partner with nonprofits to apply for the Environmental Justice Government-to-Government Program, while the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program is just for nonprofits. The types of projects to be funded are nearly identical, starting with these four:
- Technologies that reduce air pollution, including carbon emissions, as well as associated workforce development for installing them
- Projects that address heat islands, extreme heat, wood heater emissions, and wildfires
- Ways of promoting climate resilience, including adaptation planning for communities
- Projects that improve indoor air quality or reduce other indoor pollution
A fifth type of project is eligible under the program for nonprofits:
- Facilitation of community engagement in disadvantaged communities for local, state, and federal public processes
The request for applications documents for each program suggest EPA will consider a multitude of activities to be eligible but will give special consideration to those that address climate resilience, benefit rural areas, or include a “health impact assessment” (a way of predicting health impacts and health equity related to a decision).
For example, projects receiving grants could include a wide range of building-related activities, particularly in schools and childcare facilities, like air or water filtration, lead paint remediation, energy audits, installation of renewables, or even training staff to monitor IAQ. Other ideas might be teaching workers to install heat pumps in homes, making community resilience plans, or designing a community garden.
How can applicants tell if a community is eligible for Justice40 funds?
EPA developed its EJScreen tool to help identify “disadvantaged” communities, and it can be used for the purposes of the initiative. The tool allows users to enter a location and provides access to data on socioeconomic indicators, pollution sources, climate-change vulnerabilities, health disparities, service gaps (like food deserts), and a long list of environmental justice indices.
More on environmental justice
For more information:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Melton, P. (2023, January 18). $100 Million Available from EPA for Environmental Justice Work. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/newsbrief/100-million-available-epa-environmental-justice-work