ATLANTA -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $30,000 Environmental Justice Small Grant to the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (REACH) in Warsaw, N.C. REACH was one of just 40 non-profit and tribal organizations selected to receive nearly $1.2 million in competitive grants to address environmental justice (EJ) issues nationwide. The grants enable these organizations to conduct research, provide education, and develop solutions to local health and environmental issues in minority and low-income communities overburdened by harmful pollution.
'EPA’s environmental justice grants help communities across the country understand and address exposure to multiple environmental harms and risks at the local level,' said Matthew Tejada, Director of EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice. 'Addressing the impacts of climate change is a priority for EPA and the projects supported by this year’s grants will help communities prepare for and build resilience to localized climate impacts.'
REACH will use the grant money to increase awareness in rural Duplin County, an area with high poverty rates and substantial minority populations, about the correlation between industrial animal production and climate change, and help the community prepare for resiliency. According to REACH, over the past 15-20 years, industrial animal operations have grown in Duplin County and the state as a whole, with North Carolina moving from fifteenth to second in hog production in the United States. REACH has worked with residents, researchers, government agencies and, in some cases, representatives from the industrial animal industry, to collaborate on solutions to the waste management problem and associated environmental and climate impacts from industrial animal operations.
The project builds on past work REACH has done in collaboration with UNC-Chapel Hill and Johns Hopkins University on health and environmental impacts associated with concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). REACH will compile these results, together with other significant research on CAFOs and climate change, and prepare outreach materials and events to raise awareness among multiple audiences.
EPA's EJ Small Grants have been a foundational piece to the portfolios of many community organizations that have gone on to make a visible difference in their communities. The 2015 grants will help organizations in 22 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands carry out projects that will educate residents about environmental issues that may impact their health, collect data about local environmental conditions, and work collaboratively to address environmental justice issues in their communities. The grants support activities that not only address a range of community concerns, but also support activities that are educating and empowering youth and the next generation of environmental stewards.
Environmental justice is defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race or income, in the environmental decision-making process. Since 1994, EPA’s environmental justice small grants program has supported projects to address environmental justice issues in nearly 1,500 communities. The grants represent EPA’s continued commitment to expand the conversation on environmentalism and advance environmental justice in communities across the nation.
More information regarding the Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, including descriptions of previously funded grants: http://www3.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/grants/ej-smgrants.html
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