The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded five projects in Virginia nearly $2.25 million to advance environmental justice as part of President Joe Biden’s Investing in America agenda.
The EPA selected projects through its Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving Cooperative Agreement and Environmental Justice Government-to-Government programs. The funds will 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.
The Inflation Reduction Act was the largest climate investment in U.S. history, and the funding for the five projects in Virginia is part of the largest investment ever announced under two longstanding EPA programs. A series of environmental justice grant announcements from the EPA will follow before the end of 2023.
“No president has invested more in environmental justice than President Biden, and under his leadership we’re removing longstanding barriers and meaningfully collaborating with communities to build a healthier future for all,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Together, these community-driven projects will improve the health, equity and resilience of communities while setting a blueprint for local solutions that can be applied across the nation.”
The projects awarded are:
- Resilient Virginia in Lynchburg has been selected to receive $150,000 to build leadership capacity among low-income, minority residents in Lynchburg Ward 2 to address the increased effects of climate change including flooding and extreme heat and other adverse impacts to health, safety and economic well-being.
- County of Albemarle in Charlottesville has been selected to receive $460,459 for an initiative to partner with 10 community-based organizations (CBOs) that serve disadvantaged communities in Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville to help center equity and inclusion in crafting and implementing a Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plan.
- Arlington County in Arlington County has been selected to receive $980,350 to improve air quality and health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Arlington disadvantaged communities via building energy upgrades.
- Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards in Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee and Wise counties has been selected to receive $150,000 to address environmental justice concerns in the coal-impacted counties of Southwest Virginia.
- Appalachian Voices in Clinchco, Dante, Dungannon, Pennington Gap and Pound has been selected to receive $500,000 to create a Coalfield Community Resilience Model and toolkit.
“This funding to Virginia is another example of how the Biden-Harris Administration is investing in our most vulnerable places and the governments that serve them,” said EPA Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz. “Everyone deserves a future with clean water, climate resiliency, and most importantly — a government that has the best interest of its communities front of mind.”
U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine said that every Virginian “deserves a safe and habitable environment, particularly as the risk of flooding and other extreme weather events continues to increase. I’m glad to have helped pass the Inflation Reduction Act, which is making these investments to help boost climate resiliency, reduce pollutants, and strengthen energy efficiency in underserved communities possible. I will keep working to ensure that the benefits of the legislation we pass in Congress help Virginians all across the Commonwealth.”
According to U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, “the damaging impacts of climate change have disproportionately impacted communities that lack the resources or tools needed to thrive. These funds, delivered to regions across Virginia, will help historically neglected communities steel themselves against climate change and protect their communities and their livelihoods.”
U.S. Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia said the grant “signals our commitment to tackling environmental disparities in Northern Virginia and beyond. Our historic legislation and the improvements it funded will help my community and communities across the country realize the potential of energy enhancements in affordable housing and commercial structures, leveling the playing field and expanding access to the benefits of cleaner, more efficient energy solutions.”