October 24, 2023

Van Hollen, Cardin Join Biden-Harris Administration in Announcing Nearly $3.2 Million for Environmental Justice Projects in Communities Across Maryland as Part of Investing in America Agenda

Selections announced as part of largest investments through EPA’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving Cooperative Agreement and Environmental Justice Government-to-Government grant programs funded by Inflation Reduction Act

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in announcing nearly $3.2 million to fund 5 projects in Maryland that advance environmental justice as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The organizations, selected through the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving Cooperative Agreement and Environmental Justice Government-to-Government programs, will use the funds to ensure disadvantaged communities that have historically suffered from underinvestment have access to clean air and water and climate resilience solutions in alignment with the Biden-Harris administration’s Justice40 Initiative. 

This funding is a part of the largest investment ever announced under these two longstanding EPA programs and was made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act – the largest climate investment in U.S. history – which the Senators fought to pass. This is the first in a series of environmental justice grant announcements the agency will announce before the end of the year.

“Too many minority and low-income communities have been further marginalized by decades of pollution and harmed by the health hazards that come with it. We made sure that the Inflation Reduction Act would begin righting these wrongs. These investments will bolster community-based organizations’ efforts to advance equity, create jobs, and tackle longstanding pollution in historically underserved Maryland communities,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen. 

“We know that decades of environmental racism have led to disproportionate health and economic burdens on Black, Brown, Indigenous communities in Maryland and nationwide,” said Senator Ben Cardin. “The Inflation Reduction Act made possible much of this historic investment in environmental and climate justice. These federal funds represent critical support for organizations across Maryland working to reverse the impacts of environmental racism in their communities, including smaller groups that often have difficulty accessing federal funding. This is an important step towards redressing historic injustice and supporting a healthier and more equitable Maryland.”

“No President has invested more in environmental justice than President Biden, and under his leadership we’re removing longstanding barriers and meaningfully collaborating with communities to build a healthier future for all,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Together, these community-driven projects will improve the health, equity, and resilience of communities while setting a blueprint for local solutions that can be applied across the nation.”

“This funding to Maryland is another example of how the Biden-Harris Administration is investing in our most vulnerable places and the governments that serve them,” said EPA Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz.  “Everyone deserves a future with clean water, climate resiliency, and most importantly – a government that has the best interest of its communities front of mind.”

"Every Marylander – and every American – deserves to drink safe water, breathe clean air, and live in a healthy environment," said Congressman Steny Hoyer (Md.-05). "After bringing the Inflation Reduction Act to the House Floor as Majority Leader last Congress, I am now working as Chair of the Regional Leadership Council to ensure the law's historic environmental polices reach every community in America. We are coordinating with the Biden-Harris Administration and House Democrats to promote environmental justice in the underserved communities throughout our state and country that have long borne the brunt of the pollution and environmental devastation. I am pleased that Nanjemoy and Eagle Harbor, both located in my district, are among the many communities receiving the EPA's latest Environmental Justice Grants. We need to continue to tackle the climate crisis in the most effective and equitable manner possible, and I appreciate the EPA's leadership in that effort."

"For decades, communities – disproportionately communities of color – have been overburdened by pollution and other negative environmental impacts. That’s just not right, so I proudly voted for the Inflation Reduction Act to help end this pattern of injustice and make long overdue investments in Maryland communities,” said Congressman David Trone (Md.-06). “These grants will go a long way in ensuring that everyone can grow up with access to clear air and water, which is far too often a privilege rather than a right. In Congress, I have fought and will always fight to protect our environment for generations to come. You have my word."

“With today’s announcement, we are again witnessing the Inflation Reduction Act come to fruition, right here in Baltimore City. This multifaceted federal investment will help our young people secure quality employment in the growing green jobs industry, while simultaneously protecting our water supply which is essential for all. These efforts mark undeniable wins for our City,” said Congressman Kweisi Mfume (Md.-07). 

The grants announced today deliver on President Biden’s commitment to advance equity and justice throughout the United States. The two grant programs directly advance the President’s transformational Justice40 initiative to deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.

The Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem Solving (EJCPS) Program

EPA’s EJCPS program provides financial assistance to eligible organizations working to address local environmental or public health issues in their communities. The program builds upon President Biden’s Executive Orders 13985 and 14008, creating a designation of funds exclusively for small nonprofit organizations, which are defined as having 5 or fewer full-time employees, thus ensuring that grant resources reach organizations of lower capacity that historically struggle to receive federal funding. Eleven of the organizations selected for EJCPS this year are small nonprofit organizations, receiving over $1.6 million in total.

EPA EJCPS grant selections in Maryland include the following:

  • $370,775 to Ridge to Reefs in Eagle Harbor, Md. address legacy air and water pollution contamination impacts from the Chalk Point Generating Station, a formerly coal-fired power plant located adjacent to the community of Eagle Harbor, Md., the last historically African American waterfront community in the entire Chesapeake Bay.
  • $500,000 to YESS! of Charles County, Inc. in Charles County, Md. to support the historically underserved rural community of Nanjemoy in Southern Maryland and identify the environmental and public health issues facing the community.

Environmental Justice Government-to-Government (EJG2G)

EPA’s EJG2G provides funding at the state, local, territorial, and Tribal level to support government activities in partnership with community-based organizations that lead to measurable environmental or public health impacts in communities disproportionately burdened by environmental harms.

EPA EJG2G grant selections in Maryland include the following:

  • $1,000,000 to the Maryland Department of the Environment to advance a multidimensional environmental justice initiative focused on empowering local community-based organizations in South Baltimore and Maryland’s Eastern Shore to further greening projects
  • $997,466 to the Frederick County Government in Frederick, Maryland to provide these community-based organizations with program resources to build resilience, educate on air quality and climate, and engage community members.
  • $324,000 to the City of Baltimore to continue and expand their successful YH2O program designed to provide green jobs training to the City’s youth and youth from the region where appropriate, related primarily to the provision of safe drinking water.