The Environmental Protection Agency announced a new $50 million fund to identify and address low-income neighborhoods and communities of color who have been disproportionately affected by climate change, pollution, and the covid-19 pandemic.
The EPA said on Friday that the environmental justice initiatives will use allocated dollars from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package passed by Democrats in Congress earlier this year, for underserved communities through a range of local programs.
“We know how important it is to put funding to work in environmentally overburdened, economically underserved areas, and today we’re excited to let our communities know that thanks to the [American Rescue Plan], help is here,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “EPA is drawing on its many years of experience working with communities and organizations that strive for environmental justice to ensure these funds will deliver real-world results for those who need it most.”
A total of $100 million from the American Rescue Plan is earmarked for environmental justice projects. And during a trip to Baltimore on Friday, Regan spoke about how part of the first $50 million will be spent when he announced $200,000 in funding for a training program in Baltimore City that prepares young people for jobs in water infrastructure.
“Our investment is a step toward getting us to a powerful water workforce that our future demands and our community deserves,” said Regan said.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott thanked Regan and said the investment was needed “for present and future generations to thrive.”
As Regan told BuzzFeed News, the path the administration is taking to solve these issues is unprecedented. “This is the most aggressive approach to tackling environmental injustice and equity issues,” Regan said. “And from the White House to the EPA, we are turning the words into action and we are really excited to get these resources into the hands of communities.”