EPA awards nearly $2 million in environmental justice grants

In an effort to aid communities overburdened by pollution, the Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a total of $1.9 million in environmental justice grants to be shared between between 76 nonprofit organizations and local governments nationwide.

The grants, which are part of Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s initiative to expand the conversation on environmental justice, will be used to design programs that educate neighborhoods on how to address environmental challenges and improve health and the environment at a local level, particularly in minority, low-income or indigenous communities.

“Providing training to develop a skilled green workforce will help communities become more resilient in the face of economic and environmental changes and help build healthy and sustainable communities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

Applicants were encouraged to address the disproportionate effects of climate change on underprivileged communities by considering initiatives that would focus on climate equity, energy efficiency, renewable energy, local green economy and creating green jobs.

Some of the grants will go toward providing training for local residents on recycling, avoiding heat stroke, improving air quality, reducing carbon emissions and green jobs training. For example, one grantee, Groundwork Somerville in Somerville, Massachusetts, will conduct a 20-week campaign encouraging residents to replace incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient florescent light bulbs.

Recently, the EPA also awarded the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department $145,176 to monitor drinking water. The money will help the agency police underground injection wells in the state.