Under the guise of Covid-19 relief in 2021, Congress gave the Environmental Protection Agency $5.3 million for its Environmental Justice Small Grants Program. With another $2.2 million in “baseline [Environmental Justice] appropriation,” the grants were awarded to 99 organizations to address “health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID–19 pandemic.”
In practice, these grants had virtually nothing to do with addressing the pandemic, according to a report.
In one project, a nonprofit named Speak for the Trees, used its grant money for storytelling and tree walks to “increase awareness and dialogue surrounding inequitable tree canopy cover and its implications on the health of residents living in [environmental justice] communities,” according to Fox News.
Another nonprofit, Teaching Responsible Earth Education, received funding to “establish an empowering, school curriculum-integrated environmental education program for younger students propelling their awareness of problems like climate change and the injustices they create.”
Other grants went to projects like building electric vehicle charging stations. While this may seem like a reasonable EPA project, Congress designated the $5.3 million from the American Rescue Plan Act for Covid relief and recovery.
The EPA defended these projects to Fox News by saying that the American Rescue Plan funding, “allows communities to implement solutions that can improve conditions related to COVID-19 such as air quality issues.”
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