EPA Announces Availability of $1.2 Million in Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreements

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today the availability of $1.2 million for Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (CPS) Cooperative Agreements. These funds will be distributed to 10 community-based organizations that work to address environmental justice issues nationwide. Each recipient will receive up to $120,000 for two-year projects that create self-sustaining, community-based partnerships that will continue to improve local environments in the future.

EPA’s Environmental Justice CPS program provides funding for non-profit and tribal organizations to partner with stakeholders from across industry, government, and academia to develop and implement solutions that significantly address environmental and/or public health issues in America’s low income and minority communities.

The community-based organizations should use EPA’s Environmental Justice CPS model to execute a wide array of project plans aligned with EPA’s priorities to protect human health and the environment by providing Americans with clean air, land, and water.

To increase outreach to underserved communities, this opportunity will place special emphasis on high ranking proposals to be performed in rural areas as defined by the program. Rural areas, for the purposes of this competition, are defined as local areas with small, low-income, rural, and/or tribal communities with populations of 50,000 or less that have limited access to public or private resources commonly found in metropolitan areas. The goal of this emphasis is to encourage and increase project performance in geographical locations not often associated with the EJCPS program. Please note: all eligible organizations are still encouraged to apply until February 16, 2018.

For more information about EPA’s Environmental Justice CPS program, visit https://www.epa.gov/environmental-justice/environmental-justice-collaborative-problem-solving-cooperative-agreement-0

For a full description of the 2016 Environmental Justice CPS Cooperative Agreement projects, visit
https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/environmental-justice-collaborative-problem-solving-cooperative-agreement-2

The Future of Data Justice Under Trump

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

Communities need hard data to prove they’re been affected by pollution. But the government databases that keep track of those numbers are now under threat.

What Miami taught me about climate gentrification

Read the full story in the Columbia Journalism Review.

I wrote in the Color of Climate series that climate is “a threat multiplier” that intensifies the challenges facing those individuals and communities “marginalized by race, income level and immigration status, just to name a few.” Climate gentrification expands upon conventional gentrification by focusing on environmental concerns, like rising sea levels, as central factors in driving out, and oftentimes pricing out, people living in areas that were previously thought to be less valuable.

In the shadows of Refinery Row, a parable of redevelopment and race

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Massive infrastructure projects inevitably present challenges to adjoining communities that historically have taken years, and even decades, to sort out. In Hillcrest, however, homeowners are being offered two or three times the depressed value of their homes to move out, a remarkably generous deal — and a surprisingly quick resolution.

Can that agreement serve as a model for a new president who has vowed to slash through the red tape of big projects to prod economic development? Or will it stand as an uncommon example of progress on civil rights, housing and the environment?

The Energy 202: The other scientific consensus the EPA is bucking

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The Trump administration skepticism of climate-change science is no secret.

But there’s another scientific consensus the Environmental Protection Agency just bucked on Tuesday when it announced it is unraveling the Obama administration’s effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s electricity sector known as the Clean Power Plan.

That would be the scientific agreement that there is no safe level of coal-fired power plant pollution that is healthy to breathe.

How Military Outsourcing Turned Toxic

Read the full story in ProPublica.

The military is one of the country’s largest polluters, with an inventory of toxic sites on American soil that once topped 39,000. At many locations, the Pentagon has relied on contractors like U.S. Technology to assist in cleaning and restoring land, removing waste, clearing unexploded bombs, and decontaminating buildings, streams and soil. In addition to its work for Barksdale, U.S. Technology had won some 830 contracts with other military facilities — Army, Air Force, Navy and logistics bases — totaling more than $49 million, many of them to dispose of similar powders.

In taking on environmental cleanup jobs, contractors often bring needed expertise to technical tasks the Pentagon isn’t equipped to do itself. They also absorb much of the legal responsibility for disposing of military-made hazards, in some cases helping the Pentagon — at least on paper — winnow down its list of toxic liabilities.

But in outsourcing this work, the military has often struggled to provide adequate oversight to ensure that work is done competently — or is completed at all. Today, records show, some of the most dangerous cleanup work that has been entrusted to contractors remains unfinished, or worse, has been falsely pronounced complete, leaving people who live near former military sites to assume these areas are now safe.

Pursuing a toxic agenda: Environmental injustice in the early Trump administration

Read the full story from the The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative.

Environmental justice (EJ) is at the nexus of many issues and institutions the Trump administration has promised to dismantle—climate science, environmental protections, and industrial regulation. “Pursuing a Toxic Agenda” shows how the Trump administration has already reversed decades of environmental justice work, including hard-won progress under the Obama administration. In this report, we examine how the new administration’s policies, proposed budget cuts, stated priorities, and political appointments will increase toxic burdens on environmentally impacted communities, including communities living near hazardous industrial facilities, and farmworkers at risk of pesticide exposure.

Specifically, EDGI identifies:

  • Increased environmental risks for low-income communities from the Trump administration’s:
  • Support for the Dakota Access Pipeline
  • Reversal of a ban on the agricultural pesticide, chlorpyrifos, which is known to cause developmental damage in children
  • Changes to workplace safety regulations
  • Dismantled environmental protections through:
  • Weakened lead remediation and education programs
  • Reduced funding for toxic cleanups
  • Rollbacks in environmental data collection and access, necessary in struggles for environmental justice, by:
  • Limiting access to toxic emissions data
  • Cuts in funding and staff for toxics research and communication infrastructure

The Trump administration has not only moved to limit publicly available data on environmental contaminants and risks, it also restricted public feedback on rules relating to toxics. Through proposed budget cuts and personnel reductions at agencies like EPA, including the proposed elimination of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, the new administration has crippled the government’s ability to address environmental problems, including inequalities in toxic exposure. Rather—as Hurricane Harvey recently made excruciatingly clear—U.S. environmental agencies and organizations need more resources and support to address the inevitable, and inevitably unequal, effects of climate change and other environmental disasters.