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Administrator Wheeler Announces $200,000 Environmental Justice Grant to Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy

Agency awards $2 million in grant funding to states and tribes for environmental justice communities impacted by COVID-19

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Traverse City, Mich. (September 30, 2020) — Today, at a virtual press conference in Michigan with Michigan House Majority Leader Triston Cole (MI-105), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the selection of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to receive $200,000 to promote community health initiatives in Southwest Detroit that also help address challenges with COVID-19. EPA has been actively supporting COVID-19 response efforts across the country to protect public health. As part of these efforts, EPA is providing $2 million in State Environmental Justice Cooperative Agreement (SEJCA) grant funding to states, local governments and tribes for projects to benefit low income and minority communities disproportionately impacted by the global pandemic.

“Given the tremendous impact that COVID-19 has had across the nation, we have identified additional resources to aid overburdened communities,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This grant assistance will provide both short term environmental health benefits for those in the greatest of need, and build a brighter future by training the next generation of environmental stewards.”

“We’ve made it a priority to find new ways to work with our partners here in the region to ensure they have the resources needed to help and improve their environment and their communities, and these grants are a great example of how we can help at the local level,” said Regional Administrator Kurt Thiede. “While the effects of COVID-19 have been felt worldwide, these communities are among those hit the hardest in a number of areas-- this effort is reflective of their unique challenges and driven by the administration’s prioritization of assisting these communities.”

The project in Southwest Detroit will assist residents impacted by challenges faced in the area including air pollution linked to respiratory disease and high unemployment. Nationally, EPA has announced the selection of nine additional states, tribes, cities and counties around the country that will receive up to $200,000 for a total of $2 million to help low income and minority communities disproportionately impacted by the global pandemic.

Funding will be provided once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied. 

Initially, $1 million was set aside for environmental justice projects. Due to Administrator Wheeler’s desire to expand the program to help communities combat health impacts that have been exacerbated by COVID, EPA selected an additional five grants to increase the total awards to $2 million.

On Monday, Administrator Wheeler announced the selection of a $200,000 SEJCA award for the City of Minneapolis subject to satisfaction of legal and administrative requirements. The main objective of this project is to provide education on lead paint hazards, home-based asthma triggers and proper use of disinfectants in a home environment especially related to COVID-19. From November 2020 through October 2021, 100 youth will participate in workshops where they will receive training, mentorship, research coaching, and take part in hands-on-projects with partner organizations.

Through the State Environmental Justice Cooperative Agreement Program, EPA is providing grants over a two-year period to work collaboratively with environmental justice communities to understand, promote and integrate approaches to provide meaningful and measurable improvements to public health and the environment.