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EPA Announces More than $3.5 Million for Texas Environmental Justice Projects As Part of Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America Agenda

Six grantees announced as part of largest investments through EPA’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving Cooperative Agreement and Environmental Justice Government-to-Government grant programs funded by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $3,578,356 to fund six Texas projects in Dallas, the Houston area, and a Border community near El Paso that advance environmental justice as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The organizations, which EPA selected through its Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving Cooperative Agreement and Environmental Justice Government-to-Government programs, will use the funds to ensure disadvantaged communities have access to clean air and water and climate resilience solutions in alignment with the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative. 

Thanks to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act—the largest climate investment in U.S. history—this funding is a part the largest investment ever announced under these two longstanding EPA programs. This is the first in a series of environmental justice grant announcements the agency will announce before the end of the year.

“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.”

“These grants are unprecedented in several ways—for the historic amount of funding provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, and because money is going directly to communities that are ready to implement solutions to environmental issues,” said Regional Administrator Dr. Earthea Nance. “This means $3.5 million for projects in Texas that might otherwise remain overlooked and unfunded. These recipients are deeply knowledgeable about the issues facing their communities, and are ready to invest these grants in projects that will bring meaningful results.”

"Our colonias have often been overlooked for seats at the decision-making table," said Rep. Veronica Escobar (TX-16). "Critical funds and necessary infrastructure have been siphoned elsewhere, exacerbating resource inequality at the expense of already low-income communities. I hope we continue the work to close that gap and ensure every single person in El Paso and our region has access to clean water. I'm grateful for DigDeep's grant that will equip the people of Hueco Tanks with the necessary information and tools to make that dream a reality." 

“We are proud of our collaborative partnerships in Houston, and today’s announcement recognizes the important work of community organizations and partners to bring meaningful improvements in Alief,” said Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (TX-7).  “With its award of nearly $500,000 in federal funding to plant more than 1,000 trees in Alief—which, on average, is 10 degrees hotter than other areas of Houston in large part because it lacks tree canopy—the Biden administration is investing in our community and the quality of life of the people who live here.  I was glad to vote to authorize funding for this program in the Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed into law last year, and I am glad to see these funds coming back to our community.”   

“I was proud to vote for the Inflation Reduction Act that is empowering communities to develop solutions to address the most pressing problems that we face,” said Rep. Marc Veasey (TX-33). “This critical funding highlighted in today’s announcement will help create a better future for North Texas by giving a multitude of stakeholders the tools they need to understand and properly address environmental and public health challenges.”

“I am thrilled that the EPA is investing in the children of Houston, inspiring the next generation of environmental justice leaders to build safe and healthy neighborhoods for all,” said Rep. Sylvia Garcia (TX-29). “From field trips into our local waterways, to fun hands-on experiments about air quality and water testing, these federal funds are going to have a lasting impact on the students and teachers in low-income areas in my district. Regrettably, the Houston region has become known for poor air quality, and for some children, that is all they have ever known. Now, we are giving impacted communities and fence line neighborhoods the tools and resources to do something about it.” 

“Historic red-lining in North Texas has pushed Black and Brown neighborhoods closer to industrial sites, highways, and trash dumps – and the impact of this goes far beyond home values. Over the past century, rates of asthma and other cardio-pulmonary diseases have soared in parts of TX-30 disproportionately home to Black residents,” said Rep. Jasmine Crockett (TX-30). “Under President Biden, EPA has taken large leaps towards righting this historical wrong. This latest $652,662 grant will fund efforts to plant trees and other vegetative barriers in the St. Philips Community and Forest District in Southeast Dallas, providing a defense against air pollution and lowering temperatures for decades to come. Cooler and cleaner air is on the way!” 

“Congratulations to the City of Houston Health Department and the Black United Fund of Texas for winning two Environmental Justice grants totaling $1.5 million from EPA to fund work to address environmental vulnerability, adverse health outcomes, and economic disadvantages that the community experiences. Through my 18th Congressional District Office, I led in this effort by calling a community meeting that brought all sides to a discussion on the creosote contamination of Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens, which led to my request for a cancer study of the impacted area. The study resulted in three reports each revealing a new cancer cluster involving residents of the Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens area,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18). “I applaud the work of EPA Administrator Regan and his team for positively receiving communications from my office on the cancer clusters and their effort to focus energy and resources on the environmental problems faced by at risk communities like Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens. My deepest thanks to EPA Administrator Regan and his team for bringing this opportunity to the City of Houston. Through my legislative and representational work with the EPA for over a decade helped the EPA get involvement under the leadership of Administrator Regan. I welcome today’s funding; and vow to continue to pursue more funding and greater federal EPA oversight of creosote contamination and other environmental challenges faced by these communities.” 

The grants announced today deliver on President Biden’s commitment to advance equity and justice throughout the United States. The two grant programs directly advance the President’s transformational Justice40 initiative to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.

The Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving (EJCPS) Program

EPA’s EJCPS program provides financial assistance to eligible organizations working to address local environmental or public health issues in their communities. The program builds upon President Biden’s Executive Orders 13985 and 14008, creating a designation of funds exclusively for small nonprofit organizations, which are defined as having 5 or fewer full-time employees, thus ensuring that grant resources reach organizations of lower capacity that historically struggle to receive federal funding. Eleven of the organizations selected for EJCPS this year are small nonprofit organizations, receiving over $1.6 million in total.

EPA EJCPS grant selections in Texas include the following:

  • The Children’s Environmental Literacy Fund in Houston will receive $425,694 for engaging K-12 students in civic science to monitor air quality and watershed health in Greater Houston.
  • The The DigDeep Right to Water Project in Hueco Tanks Colonia will receive $500,000 to bring short- and long-term safe water solutions to residents of the Hueco Tanks colonia, a rural community less than an hour’s drive from the City of El Paso and does not have access to piped water.
  • Sewa International Inc. in Alief will receive $500,000 to mobilize youth volunteers to plant and sustain 1000 trees using water collars over the period of three years.
  • Black United Fund of Texas, Inc. in Houston will receive $500,000 for solar workforce development trainings, illegal dumping abatement, and education in an environmental justice community in the Kashmere Gardens/Greater Fifth Ward neighborhood.

Environmental Justice Government-to-Government (EJG2G)

EPA’s EJG2G provides funding at the state, local, territorial, and Tribal level to support government activities in partnership with community-based organizations that lead to measurable environmental or public health impacts in communities disproportionately burdened by environmental harms.

EPA EJG2G grant selections in Texas include the following:

  • The City of Dallas will receive $652,662 to add vegetative buffers along area roadways and measure the impact on air quality and reducing local heat island impact in the St. Philips Community in Southeast Dallas.
  • The City of Houston Health Department will receive $1 million to address climate resilience, environmental vulnerability, and economic disadvantages in the Kashmere Gardens/Greater Fifth Ward neighborhood in Houston with strategies such as a community solar hub and flood alert system.

Additional Background:  

From day one of his administration, President Biden has made achieving environmental justice a top priority. And in August 2022, Congress passed, and President Biden signed, the Inflation Reduction Act into law, creating the largest investment in environmental and climate justice in U.S. history. EPA received $3 billion in appropriations to provide grants and technical assistance for activities advancing environmental and climate justice.

Under the Inflation Reduction Act, EPA has launched and expanded innovative programs to provide more support than ever before to communities that unjustly bear the burdens of environmental harm and pollution. This includes the $177 million for the creation of 16 Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (EJ TCTACs) to remove barriers to federal resources and help communities pursue funding opportunities like those made available through President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda. EPA has also launched and will award funds through the $550 million  Thriving Communities Grantmaking Program before the end of 2023.

To learn more about environmental justice at EPA, visit: https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice