EPA to Award $550 Million for Environmental Justice

24.02.2023 - The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has received $550 million from the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to spend on measures to remediate pollution and in some cases protect communities from toxic emissions.

Funding for the projects will be coordinated through the agency’s new Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grant-making program. The EPA said the “innovative” instrument will support up to 11 entities that would provide grants to community-based projects.

Selected “grant makers”, the agency said, will be charged with developing an efficient and simplified process for distributing the money so that organizations historically facing barriers to receiving funding can “more seamlessly” apply for grants.

To apply, the entities –  which could include community-based non-profit organizations or a partnership of such, as well as a Tribal Nation or a partnership between a Tribal Nation and a community-based non-profit – will be asked to submit a Request for Information to the EPA.

The environmental watchdog plans to award roughly $50 million to each of the cooperative agreements in increments over a three-year period. For requests submitted up to May 31, 2023, cash can start flowing no later than early 2024, said EPA administrator Michael Regan.

The Inflation Reduction Act — the same legislation that European chemical producers view as unfair competition because it awards grants and subsidies for commercial US “green” projects – is the largest investment in environmental and climate justice in US history, Regan noted.

Theoretically, some of the government-sponsored projects could also be eligible for aid from entrepreneur, New York mayor and one-time presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s $85 million campaign against the proliferation of large chemicals and plastics production complexes.

Pollution from petrochemical plants in the state of Louisiana’s St James Parish has long been the subject of local lawsuits charging environmental racism. Many African-American communities are located just beyond the factory fence, and the region’s cancer rate is one of the highest in the state.

But the Gulf is not the only region where pollution from petrochemical plants is a topic. In the state of Pennsylvania, two environmental groups have threatened to sue Shell for allegedly exceeding permitted emissions from its newly inaugurated cracker complex in the town of Monaca, deep in the environmentally depressed Appalachian mountain region.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist