Advocates see environmental justice funds as only the beginning.
Environmental justice efforts under the Biden administration received a significant funding boost in the $1.5 trillion government spending bill. Still, advocates are concerned that the increased attention will be short-lived, given years of promises that have failed to deliver results in their communities. There are lenders that can offer environmental loans that can help you in funding boost use acfa-cashflow.com.
The $100 million planned for the Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental justice initiatives, an increase of $83 million beyond the fiscal 2021 allocation, is one of the biggest successes for the agency’s equality efforts.
The additional funding will support grants to underserved areas while also allowing the agency to strengthen its ability to integrate environmental justice activities throughout its entire mission, including clean air, clean water, toxic chemicals, and waste management.
“As significant as this financing is, it’s just the beginning,” said the House Natural Resources Committee chairman.
“The size of the budget must match the size of the problem.”
In addition, he noted, “vulnerable communities require laws that hold polluters accountable and provide them with redress against discriminatory policies,” as well as more input into permitting decisions.
In addition to the $100 million for environmental justice, the fiscal 2022 funding bill included a $13 million increase for ecological monitoring and enforcement, totaling $539 million.
The bill allocated $1.23 billion to the EPA’s Superfund cleanups in fiscal 2022, a modest increase of $27 million over fiscal 2021 levels.
Brownfields cleanup and redevelopment received a $1 million boost, bringing $92 million.
While the increases are minor, the bipartisan infrastructure package included billions of dollars in new funding for Superfund and other hazardous cleanups to assist long-neglected communities around the sites.
For five years, the law allocated $3.5 billion to Superfund cleanups. The House passed the omnibus package (H.R. 2471) on Wednesday, and the Senate passed it on Thursday, sending it to President Joe Biden for signature.
According to advocates, impoverished communities will require more than just funds for EPA initiatives. The initiative will follow Biden’s commitment to take a whole-of-government approach when he started office.
“We’ve been fighting legacy pollution issues for communities built on Superfund sites and landfills for 30 years, trying to find a way out,” said a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and executive director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, “We’ve been fighting legacy pollution issues for communities built on Superfund sites and landfills for 30 years, trying to find a way out.”
More resources are needed, according to White, to convert cleaned-up garbage sites into job-creating endeavors like solar energy projects that benefit communities.
“They’ll need cooperation from numerous agencies to get this fixed,” she said, adding that the EPA is “simply a portal to the whole-of-government approach.”
However, White added that she has yet to see a framework for expanding the initiative beyond the EPA.
Under the funding measure, the EPA’s environmental justice operations, particularly the Office of Environmental Justice—which oversees efforts to eliminate injustices across all EPA regional offices—see considerable benefits.
“This most definitely advances environmental justice,” said the National Wildlife Federation’s vice president of environmental justice, climate, and community revitalization, adding that Superfund and other waste site cleanups now have “a much stronger foundation than we have had in a number of years.”
While extra funding is always desirable, he and other advocates pointed out that it comes at a time when EPA leadership is promising more robust enforcement to better safeguard communities of color and low-income neighborhoods, including more surprise inspections of polluting sites.
“Even if some of these are minor gains, how the agency uses those resources to serve these areas may be just as significant,” he said.
Looking Forward to the New Year
According to Dana Johnson, senior strategy and federal policy director for WE ACT for Environmental Justice, many advocates are already looking ahead to next year to see if recent increases in federal spending will continue.
“When we go ahead to fiscal 2023, we want to see spending that is genuinely focused on environmental justice,” she said.
In January, the EPA Administrator said that the agency would increase site inspections in and around disadvantaged communities and increase air monitoring operations, including the use of the agency’s single-engine turboprop ASPECT plane, and recruit more air pollution inspectors.
Regan began a tour of long-ignored areas in the fall, saying that “far too many communities” had been suffering for “far too long,” with some waiting decades for results.