Ranking Members Grijalva, Pallone Urge Agencies to Increase Tribes’ Access to Environmental Justice Funding & Resources

WASHINGTONWashington, D.C. – U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today sent letters to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urging them to improve tribes’ access to federal funding and programs through Justice40, the Biden administration’s environmental justice initiative. Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) joined Ranking Member Grijalva on the letter to EPA. 

As highlighted in a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, tribal applicants  face barriers to accessing Justice40 programs, including eligibility requirements, competition for program access, administrative burdens, cost-share requirements, and statutory and regulatory barriers for programs.

READ the full letter EPA here.

READ the full letter to USDA here.

READ the full letter to FEMA here.

On sending the letters, Ranking Member Grijalva said, “The Biden administration’s commitment to environmental and economic justice for tribes and underserved communities is commendable. As we tackle the impacts of the climate crisis and legacy pollution, it is crucial that tribes are not only heard, but are influential voices at the table. I look forward to continuing to work with the administration and my colleagues in Congress to address the concerns raised in the GAO report and ensure tribes have the necessary resources and support to thrive.”

On sending the letter to EPA, Ranking Member Pallone said, “For far too long, tribes have suffered severe and disproportionate impacts of pollution, and it is past time we right that wrong. Doing so begins with making sure that tribes have clear, unencumbered access to the Biden Administration’s historic Justice40 programs, which were designed specifically to improve environmental justice for communities exactly like theirs. GAO’s report makes clear there is still important work to be done to remove barriers to these programs, and I look forward to working closely with EPA to address those concerns once and for all.”

Additional Background

In January 2021, the Biden-Harris administration launched the Justice40 Initiative as part of Executive Order 14008 on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. The Justice40 Initiative is intended to ensure 40% of the overall benefits of federal investments in areas like climate and clean energy are delivered to underserved communities, including tribes and eligible Indigenous communities.

GAO’s recent report lists eligibility requirements, competition for program access, administrative burdens, cost-share requirements, and statutory and regulatory barriers for programs as barriers that tribal applicants encounter in applying for project funding to address critical water infrastructure, affordable housing, and legacy pollution, among other areas of investment under the Justice40 Initiative. GAO recommended that agencies better incorporate tribal input in their processes, identify remaining statutory and regulatory barriers, and increase applicants’ access to information.

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Contact: Lindsay Gressard