By Valerie Volcovici
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration announced on Tuesday it has opened up $2 billion in grants for lower-income communities overburdened by pollution and vulnerable to climate change for projects to bolster their resilience to climate impacts and strengthen their ability to monitor air and water quality.
The Community Change Grants are the single largest investment in environmental justice that has been made by an administration, and a key measure to achieve the administration’s goal of ensuring that 40% of federal clean energy investment benefits flow to disadvantaged communities.
The funds, made available through the administration’s signature climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act, must be used by November 2024 – when the next U.S. presidential election takes place.
The Biden administration’s spending on climate and environmental justice measures has been under scrutiny by Republican lawmakers seeking to undercut the president’s climate agenda.
“This historic, unprecedented funding has the promise to turn disadvantaged and overburdened areas into healthy, resilient, and thriving communities for current and future generations,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.
The EPA will review applications on a rolling basis and encouraged applicants to apply as early as possible.
The agency identified five target investment areas where it hopes to receive applications: Alaska tribal areas; continental U.S. tribal land; territories such as Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam; small and rural areas that lack fixed, legally determined geographic boundaries and areas along the southern border with Mexico.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici, Editing by Franklin Paul)