SEATTLE — Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced approximately $2 billion in funding available to support community-driven projects that deploy clean energy, strengthen climate resilience, and build capacity for communities to tackle environmental and climate justice challenges. An estimated $150 million of this funding has been dedicated to fund projects benefitting federally recognized Tribes in Alaska. Community Change Grants are the single largest investment in environmental justice going directly to communities in history, and will advance collaborative efforts to achieve a healthier, safer, and more prosperous future for all. These funds, part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, are made possible by the President’s Inflation Reduction Act—the biggest-ever investment in clean energy and climate action.
In August, Administrator Regan traveled to Alaska during the fourth leg of his Journey to Justice Tour to spotlight environmental justice concerns of Alaska Native tribes and discuss how EPA can support community solutions with unprecedented federal resources from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The Administrator met with tribal leaders and indigenous stakeholders to hear first-hand about challenges with climate impacts and adaptation, subsistence foods security, water infrastructure and security, contaminated lands and how these environmental challenges impact their way of life and culture.
“Throughout my Journey to Justice tour, I’ve heard from residents and advocates calling for resources to support local solutions in communities that have long been overlooked and forgotten,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Today, thanks to President Biden’s commitment to investing in communities that have long struggled to access federal funding, we are delivering on these calls to action. This historic, unprecedented funding has the promise to turn disadvantaged and overburdened areas into healthy, resilient, and thriving communities for current and future generations.”
“Alaska Native communities rely on the lands they received under ANCSA, but unfortunately, far too many continue to deal with harmful contaminants that remain from the federal government. These contaminated lands are nothing short of an environmental injustice—and that’s why I’m so glad to see after years of work, $150 million in additional funding is going to support cleanup on ANCSA lands,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “This funding will help to fulfill the demands of Alaskans by addressing the issue of contaminated lands and help create new jobs. I encourage all eligible Alaska Tribes and communities to apply for available funding—let’s get to work to end this injustice.”
“I am glad to see this dedication of at least $150 million to address contaminated lands, pollution reduction, and climate adaptation in Alaska,” said Representative Mary Peltola. “This is an important step in improving the quality of life of many Alaska Native communities, including those who have been dealing with contaminated lands left behind by the federal government for decades. Supporting these communities in their efforts to raise awareness of this issue has long been a priority of the Alaska Delegation, and we will continue to advocate for long term solutions as well as monitor these program funds to make sure the federal government is keeping the promises it made to Alaska Natives.”
“We are excited for this unprecedented opportunity to match federal resources to support community-led solutions to tackle climate and environmental justice challenges in Alaska Native communities,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller. “This targeted funding will help Alaska Native Corporations, Tribes, and Tribal organizations address climate impacts and adaptation, subsistence foods security, water and energy infrastructure, and other environmental threats that impact their way of life and culture.”
The Community Change Grants Notice of Funding Opportunity is administered through the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights. Out of the $2 billion in funding, EPA has identified Target Investment Areas to help ensure that communities with unique circumstances, geography, and needs can equitably compete for funding. This includes an estimated $150 million for projects benefitting federally recognized Tribes in Alaska, and an estimated $300 million for projects benefitting Tribal communities in the U.S. outside of Alaska.
EPA is accepting applications through this Targeted Investment Area that include projects:
- Focused on the clean-up of contaminated lands conveyed through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). ANCSA was enacted in 1971 to settle claims to public lands through the conveyance of 46 million acres of land to Alaska Native regional and village corporations. Many of the lands promised and conveyed to corporations pursuant to the settlement in ANCSA were contaminated and pose health and other concerns to Indigenous Alaskans and communities, negatively impacting subsistence resources and hampering cultural, social, and economic activities.
- Focused on other forms of pollution reduction. These include indoor air quality, outdoor air quality, clean water infrastructure, and the safe management and disposal of hazardous waste.
- Focused on Alaska-specific climate action strategies. These include community energy resilience, improving human health and climate resilience, permafrost degradation management strategies, climate emergency management and response, and nature-based solutions.
For up-to-date information about the Community Change Grants Notice of Funding Opportunity and upcoming informational webinars, subscribe to the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights’ listserv by sending a blank email to: email@example.com and follow us on X (formerly Twitter): @EPAEnvJustice.
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