EPA Announces Over $2.5M for Environmental Justice Projects in Communities Across Iowa

posted on Tuesday, October 24, 2023 in Council News

LENEXA, KAN. (OCT. 24, 2023) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced over $2.5 million to fund three projects across Iowa that advance environmental justice as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.

The organizations, which EPA has selected through its Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement and Environmental Justice Government-to-Government programs, will use the funds to ensure that 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 of 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.

“Environmental justice is at the heart of everything we do at EPA Region 7,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Meg McCollister. “Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, our efforts across the region are supercharged, delivering federal funds to entities that have the potential to make the greatest impact on our communities.”

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% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.

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 five or fewer full-time employees, thus ensuring that grant resources reach organizations of lower capacity that historically struggle to receive federal funding.

EPA EJCPS grant selection in Iowa:

  • Iowa Environmental Council in Des Moines has been selected to receive $500,000 to build leadership and capacity for environmental justice (EJ) in Iowa, improving understanding of EJ issues; growing connections between underserved communities and environmental groups; and facilitating engagement of underserved communities in local, state, and federal public projects, processes, advisory groups, and rulemakings in communities with coal plants, a legacy of pollution, and/or active climate adaptation and disaster resiliency planning efforts.

Environmental Justice Government-to-Government (EJG2G) Program 

EPA’s EJG2G grants provide 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 Iowa include:

  • Iowa’s Department of Human Rights has been selected to receive over $1 million to establish a statewide Environmental Justice Health Equity (EJHE) program to build the capacity of vulnerable Iowans to have meaningful involvement in addressing environmental and/or public health results. The program will address issues of inequity in a manner designed to organize, empower, and support vulnerable populations, including youth. It will address the risks of climate change and household EJ issues, including lead-based paint, asbestos, mold, lead service lines, and energy burden.
  • Linn County has been selected to receive $1 million to provide residential energy efficiency (EE) assistance for low- to moderate income residences in the county to combat poverty, mitigate climate impacts, and work to address impacts of environmentally unjust practices. The county will partner with the Neighborhood Finance Corporation (NFC), a nonprofit community-based organization, to establish and manage a below-market rate, forgivable loan fund to be made available to landlords who rent to low-income tenants for residential decarbonization EE investments.

Additional Background

From day one of his administration, President Biden has made achieving environmental justice a top priority. 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.

Learn more about environmental justice at EPA.

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Learn more about EPA Region 7

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7 - 11201 Renner Blvd., Lenexa, KS 66219

Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Nine Tribal Nations

Contact Information: Jonathan Klusmeyer, 913-343-2991, klusmeyer.jonathan@epa.gov

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