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August 2, 2022

New Tools to Help EJ Communities Access Justice40 Funds Launched for Third Anniversary of the Equitable and Just National Climate Platform

Platform doubles down on work remaining to be done

Contacts

Alexandria Trimble, atrimble@earthjustice.org

Washington, D.C.

The Equitable and Just National Climate Platform (EJNCP), a coalition of environmental justice and national environmental groups, celebrates its third year anniversary by launching the EJNCP Justice40 Resource Guide and Funding Finder to help disadvantaged communities tap federal Justice40 Initiative funds. Members of the EJNCP released the following statement on the new Resource Guide and Funding Finder and to reflect on recent accomplishments, needed actions from the Biden administration, and the work ahead.

The EJNCP’s Justice40 Resource Guide and Funding Finder

“President Joe Biden’s commitment to direct 40% of climate, clean energy, transportation, and other infrastructure investment benefits to disadvantaged communities marked a major step toward beginning to address persistent injustice. Achieving the Justice40 goal would mobilize substantial new investments in legacy pollution cleanup, pollution-free energy and transportation, workforce development, quality affordable housing, and critical clean water infrastructure in communities that need it the most.

“The Justice40 Resource Guide and Funding Finder released by the EJNCP today aims to give communities, state and local governments, and other stakeholders the information they need to support successful Justice40 implementation. The guide and Funding Finder, an easy-to-use online search platform, identify roughly 400 federal agency programs that fall under the Justice40 Initiative, including those funded through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. They share information on how to access program funding and direct advocacy efforts to improve Justice40 outcomes.

“The Funding Finder also allows communities, state and local governments, and advocates to search for Justice40 programs by category, such as economic development, public transportation and water, and to explore program funding amounts, who is eligible to receive funding, application deadlines and other important information.

“Black, Brown, Indigenous and low-income communities remain sacrificial zones with disproportionate exposure to polluting industries and are facing the brunt of worsening climate impacts. Justice40 is vital to beginning to right these wrongs and bring much needed funding to historically underinvested communities across the country.”

The Work Continues

While the EJNCP has accomplished many of its goals since its formation in 2019, we will continue our work to ensure that no communities are left behind. The need for cleaner air, safer drinking water, climate-resilient affordable housing, pollution-free energy and transportation options, and good fair-wage jobs in environmental justice communities far outpace the resources and policies delivered so far.

The EJNCP will continue to urge the White House to invest in climate justice and take steps to make Justice40 a success, including providing more support to local governments and community groups seeking to obtain grants.

On its third anniversary, EJNCP pledges to use the full force of its coalition to fight for climate action and environmental justice despite the numerous obstacles put in its path.

Highlights of accomplishments supported by the Equitable and Just National Climate Forum

  • Historic levels of funding for environmental justice in the president's FY23 budget ($77 billion for EJ) and the FY22 Omnibus appropriations bill ($1.3 billion).
  • House Build Back Better Act, passed in Nov 2022 with more than $163 billion to build healthy and toxic-free communities, healthy ports, pollution-free energy and transportation, climate-resilient affordable housing, and more.
  • Justice40 commitment to deliver 40% of federal climate and infrastructure investment benefits to disadvantaged communities.
  • American Rescue Plan Act, signed in March 2021, with >$12 billion for environmental justice.
  • EJNCF Justice40 recommendations reflected in the White House Justice40 Interim Guidance to agencies, “best practices” Pilot with 21 agency programs, and initial list of J40 federal programs to support implementation.
  • Draft Climate & Economic Justice Screening Tool to identify disadvantaged communities and direct federal investments and benefits to where they are needed most.
  • Key marker bills to advance environmental justice and address cumulative impacts, including the Environmental Justice for All Act, the Environmental Justice Act, and the Justice in Power Plant Permitting Act.
  • First-ever White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, which includes six EJNCF members
  • Agency funding to advance environmental justice, including:
    • $12.6 billion for clean water, including $3.2 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, $6.4 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, and $3 billion to replace lead service lines (December 2021, May 13, 2022)
    • $500 million to begin replacing the nation’s fleet of school buses with clean zero-emission buses (May 20, 2022)
    • $254.5 million in Brownfields grants to 265 communities, 86% which have proposed projects in historically underserved areas (May 13, 2022)
    • $3 billion in Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) formula funding to weatherize homes and reduce energy costs (March 2022
    • $1.47 billion for the Bus and Bus Facilities and Low or No Emission grant programs to reduce diesel emissions in disadvantaged communities (March 2022)
    • $1.5 billion in grant funding through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program (January 28, 2022)
    • $1 billion to clean up hazardous Superfund sites, with approximately 60% of the funding going to sites in disadvantaged communities (December 17, 2021)
    • $1 billion in Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) funding to increase resilience to extreme weather events (August 9, 2021)
    • $50 million dollars for environmental justice initiatives at EPA (June 25, 2021)

Critical Next Steps for Congress & the Administration

The Biden Administration Must:

  • Fund the environmental justice and climate justice investments included in the House-passed Build Back Better Act. Senator Joe Manchin single-handedly blocked legislation that included investments to address environmental injustice and combat climate change. The burden now falls on the Biden administration to use existing authorities to mobilize investments to address the climate emergency, advance environmental justice, and secure a just climate future.
  • Be bold in using its remaining authority to set stringent protections against pollution from fossil fuel power plants and other sources. The administration must intentionally address the cumulative and devastating health impacts of pollution and other stressors in low-income and Tribal communities and communities of color.
  • Continue Justice40 implementation to deliver at least 40% of relevant federal investment benefits to disadvantaged communities. Specifically, the administration must:
    • Launch the Environmental Justice Scorecard with agency methods for calculating and tracking community benefits.
    • Update the CEJST to address stakeholder comments and release final version of the tool.
    • Release a full list of federal agency Justice40 programs.
    • Issue final White House Justice40 implementing guidance for federal agencies.
    • Provide more technical support and capacity building to local governments and community groups representing disadvantaged communities so they can successfully apply for federal grants.
    • Simplify grant application processes to make federal funds more accessible to disadvantaged communities.
    • Work with state governors and agencies and local governments and community groups to support the delivery of Justice40 funding to communities that need it the most.
    • Strengthen federal programs to maximize the benefits delivered to disadvantaged communities and avoid harms, such as increased pollution or community displacement.
  • Strengthen Executive Order 12898 to address disproportionate toxic pollution in EJ communities and advocate for strong public health standards that ensure mandatory pollution reduction in these neighborhoods and address the cumulative burden of multiple sources of pollution.
  • Strengthen support for community decision-making and meaningful community engagement and consideration of cumulative impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to prevent harms to communities.

Congress Must:

  • Pass the Environmental Justice for All Act to require agencies to address and mitigate the disproportionate impact of environmental and human health hazards on communities of color, indigenous communities, and low-income communities resulting from agencies' programs and policies. The bill also requires agencies to address cumulative impacts of pollution in permitting decisions and expands the types of legal actions available to individuals regarding charges of federal discriminatory practices.
  • Appropriate at least $119 billion for programs addressing some of the dire needs in environmental justice communities across the country. These investments are essential to ensuring that all communities — including communities facing environmental racism, economic inequality, high levels of toxic pollution and disproportionate impacts from climate change — can realize their fundamental right to breathe clean air, drink safe water, and live free from toxic legacy pollution.

The Equitable & Just National Climate Platform launched on July 17, 2019. That year, signatories to the platform achieved consensus on a historic plan calling for national climate action that confronts racial, economic, and environmental injustice as it enacts deep cuts in climate pollution and accelerates a pollution-free energy future that benefits all communities. Members include leaders from fourteen environmental justice organizations and six national environmental groups.

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