News Releases from Region 09
U.S. EPA Awards Navajo Nation $120,000 to support community effort to address environmental and health challenges
Navajo Nation EPA one of 18 organizations selected nationwide for Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Agreements
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an award of $120,000 in Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) Agreements to Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency (NNEPA) for community health efforts in the area near the former Navajo Forest Products Industry sawmill. Today’s agreement is one of 18 nationwide to benefit selected community-based organizations, totaling $2.1 million in funding distributed this year.
“We are excited to award our Navajo Nation partners this Environmental Justice grant,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “We look forward to seeing trained local community members working to protect human health and revitalize their community.”
The Navajo Nation EPA will use the funds to work with the existing Navajo Forest Products Industry (NFPI) Community Advisory Group in developing a training to protect the community from potential health effects from the former NFPI site. This effort will include technical job training to help local residents install and check air monitors, as well as collect health surveys. The surveys will assist in the development of a health assessment report to help identify and reduce potential exposure and health effects from the NFPI site.
The closure of the NFPI sawmill and particle board fabrication plant 25 years ago left a 100-acre abandoned, contaminated property off of Highway 12 on Navajo Nation land near the Red Lake Chapter House. Soil and groundwater contain elevated levels of asbestos, formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds, which present a risk to human health and the environment. While Navajo Nation EPA works to address these risks and explore long-term revitalization, this U.S. EPA funding will help provide a better understanding of community impacts and provide community protective recommendations.
Nationwide, this year’s projects selected for these grants include efforts to reduce sources of air pollution, reduce lead exposure in homes of low-income residents, and reduce illegal dumping on tribal lands. 88% of this year’s recipients are in communities with Opportunity Zones, which were created under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Trump. Nearly 35 million Americans live in communities designated as Qualified Opportunity Zones.
The EJCPS Cooperative Agreement 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 their communities. These projects support local problem solving through the development of sustainable partnerships. This program provides funds for community driven solutions to local, environmental problems.
For more information about EPA’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving Cooperative Agreement Program, please visit: https://19january2021snapshot.epa.gov/environmental-justice/environmental-justice-collaborative-problem-solving-cooperative-agreement-0