U.S. EPA has selected 28 organizations to receive $4.1 million in new environmental justice grants to support the nationwide effort on COVID-19 and community-based efforts to develop and implement solutions to environmental and/or public health issues for underserved communities. Three state environmental agencies are among the recipients:
- The New Mexico Environment Department received funding to develop a workforce recruitment and training program for drinking water and wastewater treatment plant operators. One of the most common contributors to noncompliance at small water utilities is the lack of a certified operator. This program will bring youth and unemployed workers from local industries, such as the oil and gas sector, into well-paying, professional careers benefiting their communities by providing highly qualified operators to deliver safe and reliable drinking water and maintain wastewater systems.
- The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, & Energy received funding to develop an Environmental Justice Community Resilience Plan designed to close communication lag times and promote community health and resiliency in Southwest Detroit. The extended lag time in translating knowledge into on-the-ground response in Detroit’s environmental justice (EJ) communities has led to disproportionate numbers of deaths. The project will assist residents impacted by challenges including air pollution linked to respiratory disease and other health risks.
- The South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control received funding to work with community partners to develop a holistic Community-Managed Disaster Risk Reduction training to be piloted with participants from EJ communities around the state. The project aims to empower EJ communities while building capacity to better prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and strengthen community resilience.