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Arizona group awarded $20,000 for environmental justice project

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SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is awarding $20,000 to Forgotten People CDC of Tonalea, Ariz., an organization working with western Navajo Nation communities to tackle environmental justice challenges.

Nationally, the agency is awarding 40 grants in 28 states totaling approximately $800,000 to community-based organizations and local and tribal governments for community projects aimed at addressing environmental and public health issues.

“These grants mark the beginning of a full-scale revitalization of what we do and how we think about environmental justice,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Environmental justice is not an issue we can afford to relegate to the margins. It has to be part of our thinking in every decision we make.”

Forgotten People CDC is working with the community to increase access to clean, safe drinking water in remote areas of the Navajo Nation. The organization is identifying practical, effective solutions for the Diné communities in western Navajo Nation homes without access to piped water. In this remote region, families are forced to haul and store water on the premises. The data from the assessment phase will quantify the unique problems faced by these communities. Stakeholders will then work to develop an effective action plan and pilot a project to improve and provide access to safe drinking water.

Nationally, grant recipients will use the money to create healthy, sustainable communities through dozens of local projects aligned with Jackson’s top five priorities – improving air quality, managing chemical risks, cleaning up hazardous waste disposal sites, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting America’s water.

Financial assistance under the environmental justice small grants program is available to all non-profit organizations designated by the IRS or recognized by the state, territory, commonwealth or tribe in which it is located; city, township, county government and their entities; or federally recognized Native American tribal government.

In the 15 years since initiating the environmental justice small grants program, EPA has awarded more than $20 million in funding to assist 1,130 community-based organizations and local and tribal governments.