The Dernogalizer

October 27, 2010

My Offshore Wind Question for Governor O’Malley, and Candidate Ehrlich

Filed under: Energy/Climate,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 8:28 pm
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I’m very pleased that the College Park Patch’s interview with Governor O’Malley started off by asking my question “Do you support offshore wind, and if so what will you do to make it a reality over these next four years”. Not only did Governor O’Malley answer the question in support of offshore wind and list steps he has taken, but he proceeded to discuss clean energy and energy efficiency policy for a full six minutes!  This is pretty good for an election where the the environment and clean energy policy has scarcely come up in debates or the media.  For more background on why O’Malley should be re-elected Governor, see my op-ed in the Diamondback from a few weeks ago.  On an even more positive note, the question after mine was about the Purple Line Light Rail.

Interestingly, my offshore wind question also was asked by the Patch to Ehrlich, although in a slightly different format.  He somehow starts at offshore wind and ends at drilling for oil in ANWAR.  See the video at the 2:25 mark…


October 26, 2010

Repower America’s Smart Use of Online Media

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:47 pm
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Photo from Repower America blog

I love this move by the new media people over at Repower America.  They’ve bought up a bunch of websites that say “Yes on Prop 23” which then redirect visitors to a website explaining why Prop 23 is a bad for California’s clean energy economy.  Below is a repost of their announcement of this great tactic.

The backers of the Yes on Proposition 23 campaign in California have plenty of reasons to be embarrassed:

· Their key talking points are based on lies.
· An overwhelming majority of their funding comes from oil and coal companies.
· Some of their key organizers are actually proud to be funded by out-of-state oil companies.
· Their advertisements are designed to mislead Californians.

Even more embarrassing is the fact that their entire campaign is based on a falsehood. While the Yes on 23 campaign claims that the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 is harmful to the economy, they’ve got it completely backward: clean energy solutions that help solve the climate crisis are actually beneficial to California’s economy. To help them out, the Climate Protection Action Fund has developed some new websites the Yes on Prop 23 campaign may want to consider directing their supporters to:


The new Yes on Prop. 23 sites read, “This is really embarrassing. We’ve just realized that Prop. 23 is a bad idea. It turns out you can solve the climate crisis and create jobs at the same time.”



October 25, 2010

Markey: BP Chief Officially Refuses to Testify Before Congress

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 6:36 pm
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From the desk of Congressman Ed Markey

As Bob Dudley Blames Media, Everyone Else for Reaction to Spill, New BP CEO Avoids Talking to Congress, American People


Contact: Chairman Ed Markey, 202-225-4012

WASHINGTON (October 25, 2010) – In a speech today in London, BP’s new Chief Executive Officer, Bob Dudley, blamed the media, industry rivals and “a fair number of observers” for the reaction to his company’s more than 4 million barrel oil spill – the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. Meanwhile, Dudley officially refused to testify before Congress in Washington, sending a letter late Friday to Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) to decline an appearance at a congressional hearing to discuss the spill. Dudley also claimed in the speech that the company’s relationship with American officials had improved.

“The American people were told that as CEO, Bob Dudley would change BP’s attitudes and practices,” said Rep. Markey, who had requested that Mr. Dudley appear before his Energy and Environment Subcommittee in the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “Yet BP is continuing to point the finger at everyone but themselves. Since this disaster began, BP has stood for ‘Blame Passed.’

Since the last appearance by BP leadership before Congress on June 17th, BP has released findings from their own internal investigation into the Deepwater Horizon disaster, announced an overhaul of their safety practices, and installed a new CEO.

“The American people deserve answers from BP, but when it comes to appearing before Congress, one thing BP certainly does not stand for is ‘Being Present,'” said Rep. Markey. “If BP is truly committed to repairing their image and standing with the American people and government officials, Mr. Dudley can start by appearing before Congress.”

Dudley’s letter of refusal can be found HERE

Rep. Markey’s letters to Dudley can be found HERE


October 24, 2010

Hundreds Rally on Kayford Mountain; Dozens to March Onto “reclaimed” Site to Plant Trees

Filed under: environment,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 4:29 pm
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A very creative MTR rally by activists.  Read more by Morgan Goodwin about the action.

Hundreds Rally on Kayford Mountain; Dozens to March Onto “reclaimed” Site to Plant Trees

Nick Martin 304.854.7306
Debbie Jarrell 304.854.7306

Editors Note: Information, Directions, Photographs, & Video will be updated throughout the day.

Kayford, W.Va. – Hundreds of West Virginians and their allies will rally on Kayford Mountain and march from the Stanley Heirs Park onto the neighboring mountaintop removal site to plant trees on the surface mine. The rally begins at noon.

Lifelong Coal River Valley resident Junior Walk said, “Coal companies sure as hell aren’t going to take it upon themselves to do something about it – some one’s got to do it.”

Dozens of individuals intend to walk onto the mine site to plant trees on a “reclaimed” area of the site in an act of non-violent civil disobedience. They call for the abolition of mountaintop removal and thorough reclamation of the over 1 million acres flattened by surface mining in Appalachia. Standard reclamation involves regrading high walls into steep slopes and seeding the rocky soil with grass. The biodiverse mixed mesophytic forests of central Appalachia cannot regrow on reclaimed surface mines.

John Johnson, forester and environmentalist said, “The coal industry does not attempt to return the landscape to its previous biodiversity – leaving it up to the citizens to reclaim it themselves. Fixing the ruined landscape will provide long term jobs for those put out of work by the abolition of mountaintop removal.”

The rally and action comes on the heels of the EPA’s recommendation to veto the Spruce No. 1 mine’s permit and Appalachia Rising, the largest national gathering of people in opposition to mountaintop removal coal mining to date. Appalachia Rising culminated with a march to the White House of over 2,000 people and 118 arrests for non-violent civil disobedience at the White House, PNC Bank, Department of Interior, and Army Corps of Engineers.

“It’s up to us to fix our community,” said Chuck Nelson, a retired deep miner from the Coal River Valley, “the coal industry’s not gonna fix it.”

October 21, 2010

Student leader, Joel Francis, challenges Charles Koch to debate Prop 23 and CA’s economic future

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 5:10 pm
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Way to go Joel!  See the press release here

CA Student Leader, Debate Team Alumnus Challenges Koch to Debate Prop. 23

If Ignored, Will Go to Wichita to Present Challenge in Person About Koch’s Attempt to “Wreck” California’s Clean Energy Economy

Los Angeles Cal State L.A. debate team alumnus, former student leader and Marine Corps veteran Joel Francis today challenged Charles Koch to debate the Koch-backed Proposition 23 initiative “anytime, anywhere” in the state of California. If his challenge is ignored, Francis says he will be at Koch’s Wichita, Kansas, headquarters on Tuesday to follow up on the challenge.

Francis issued the challenge via video as a part of Power Vote California, a project of the California Student Sustainability Coalition, a coalition that is fighting the initiative that Koch has backed with at least a million dollars. If passed on November 2, Prop. 23 would suspend California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). Passed in 2006, AB 32 ensures the innovation and development of clean energy solutions like solar, electric cars and more.

Francis and Power Vote California are particularly concerned that suspending AB 32 would “wreck” the most promising employment sector for students and graduates entering the job market.

Since 2005, California green jobs have grown 10 times faster than the statewide average. Now, 500,000 employees work in clean technology or green jobs in the state. One hundred economists from California and around the world have called for a “No” vote on Prop. 23 and protect AB 32 because of the legislation’s importance to California’s economic stability.

As a senior, I like that clean economy jobs have grown 10 times faster than the statewide average, but I’m deeply concerned that Prop. 23 would jeopardize $10 billion of private investment in the state’s clean economy, the most promising employment sector for young Californians,” Francis said. “If you are going to try to hurt the economy of a state you don’t even live in, then you ought to have the courage to explain yourself in person.”

If his challenge is ignored, Francis plans to travel to Wichita early next week to deliver his debate challenge letter to Koch’s office in person.

Mr. Koch, I get that you and your corporation don’t want to be part of our clean energy future. That’s your free-market choice. But that doesn’t mean you get to wreck its development for everyone else,” Francis said. “I’m not going to let you hide behind your billions of dollars in Wichita, Kansas. If I don’t hear back from you by Tuesday, I will be at the front door of your office to issue this challenge again in person. As the CEO of one of the largest privately held companies in the country, I know you can’t possibly be afraid of just one college student.”

# # #


About California Student Sustainability Coalition –

The California Student Sustainability Coalition (CSSC) is uniting and empowering California’s community of higher education to collaboratively and nonviolently transform ourselves and our institutions based on our inherent social, economic, and ecological responsibilities. It was founded in 2003.


October 20, 2010

Vice President Gore Urges “No” Vote on Proposition 23

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 3:18 pm
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From the Repower America website

WASHINGTON, D.C. ― Today, Former Vice President Al Gore and the Climate Protection Action Fund have released a new video statement urging opposition to a harmful California ballot initiative, Proposition 23. In the statement, Vice President Gore asked Californians to vote against the ballot proposal that would effectively overturn the state’s pioneering energy and climate law.

“The fight for America’s clean energy future is taking place right now, and it’s come to California,” Vice President Gore said. “This is a fight we simply cannot afford to lose.”

Proposition 23 would suspend the state law known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, or AB 32. This law sets limits on the greenhouse gas pollution that is changing our climate, while creating incentives for the production of clean, renewable energy. The funding in support of Proposition 23 has come overwhelmingly from out-of-state oil companies.

The Climate Protection Action Fund is working to defeat Proposition 23 by sending staff members to California for voter outreach and education.

“This is a pivotal moment, and all of us need to be involved,” Vice President Gore said. “The polls show that Proposition 23 is a close vote. We need everyone in California to get out and vote ‘no’ on Proposition 23.”

Environment Maryland endorses Gov. O’Malley

Filed under: environment,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 1:20 am
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An excellent articulation by Brad Heavner of Environment Maryland on why it’s important that voters choose Martin O’Malley over Bob Ehrlich if they want to see progress on environmental issues such as the Chesapeake Bay.

October 19, 2010

No on Prop 23 Battle Gets Big Boost from James Cameron, Google

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:49 pm
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The No on Prop 23 battle being waged in California against the oil industry sponsored initiative to gut California’s global warming law is very fascinating.  While environmentalists and their organizations are fighting tooth and nail, the clean tech industry in California has grown to be a formidable foe to the fossil fuel industry.  They are matching big oil dollar for dollar, and then some!  Hopefully as the clean energy industry grows in other states, it will gain the kind of influence we’re seeing in California…an influence that can stand toe to toe with the fossil fuel special industry.  A recent poll shows voters are 45-34 in opposition!  The campaign to stop Prop 23 received a nice boost of recent, according to Todd Woody on Grist…

“Since Thursday, the No on 23 forces have raised more than $7.3 million as the Silicon Valley-Hollywood-environmental-industrial complex revved up for the final push before Election Day on Nov. 2.

The Yes campaign’s take since Thursday? $10,000.”

“Avatar director James Cameron attracted the most attention with his $1 million donation on Friday. But Gordon Moore, the legendary co-founder of chip giant Intel, also dropped $1 million into the No coffers that day, and so did Pacific Gas & Electric ($250,000), California’s largest utility and a leading proponent of climate change legislation. Google co-founder Sergey Brin also donated $200,000 on Thursday, and an organization of Silicon Valley tech companies contributed $125,000.

On Tuesday, a group of some 66 investors controlling more than $400 billion in assets are scheduled to hold a press conference to announce their opposition to Prop 23.

In the meantime, national environmental groups and non-profits continued to pour cash into the No campaign last week. The National Wildlife Federation contributed $3 million on Friday. ClimateWorks Foundation, a San Francisco non-profit, gave $900,000. New York’s Rockefeller Family Fund kicked in $300,000 on Thursday and the Natural Resources Defense Council, a top No on 23 donor, added $300,000 more Friday.”

Want to help?

  1. Visit the “No on 23″ website, learn the facts & sign up:
  2. Educate yourself on how California’s climate & energy laws have created companies & jobs:
  3. Tell your friends by email, on Facebook, at work, & everywhere else.
  4. Participate in the debate. Write letters to the editor and post comments on blogs & websites.
  5. Contribute (click here). The other side’s leader, right-wing California Assemblyman Dan Logue, has publicly said he expects the oil companies to spend $50 million.

October 18, 2010

Column: Improving College Park: The case for a student voice

Filed under: Dernoga — Matt Dernoga @ 1:16 am
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I have a column out today about the possibility of the City of College Park where I attend graduate school lowering the minimum age required for being a candidate for city council from 21 to 18 years old.  I come out in favor of this change.

Improving College Park: The case for a student voice

By Matt Dernoga

Monday, October 18, 2010

The College Park City Council will be considering legislation Oct. 26 on whether to lower the minimum candidate age for city council office from 21 to 18 years old. Last year, I was very active in the city elections with the student group UMD for Clean Energy. Although we didn’t run any student candidates, we had an active role in raising awareness of environmental issues facing the city that candidates should address. Based on this experience, I have some insights on why I think lowering the age limit to 18 would be great for College Park.

You might think of College Park politics as limited to serving on the city council, but I consider it being involved in the community and having a stake in the neighborhood. Despite all that College Park has to offer, citizen participation often leaves city officials wanting, as it is very difficult to find not only candidates to run for office but also more members to sit on advisory committees. Student participation especially is almost nonexistent.

As a result, most students don’t care about the well-being of College Park. When you’re not involved in your community, you’re more likely to disrespect it. Indeed, I’ve heard city residents rightfully complain about noise violations, a lack of cooperation in combating crime and hundreds of beer bottles, cans and cups left in parts of Old Town after parties. When a large part of the population is completely disengaged from its community, College Park hurts.

Development and transportation issues could badly use student involvement. If residents aren’t talking to students, they often have to deal with whatever the university administration decides it wants. Engaged students serve as a check on university actions that impact the city. As new projects such as the East Campus redevelopment, the Purple Line and additional student housing are shaped, students need to play a role. UMD for Clean Energy met with city council candidates on these kinds of issues last year, and many of those candidates welcomed student input and were pleased to find we had common ground.

Lowering the age limit to 18 will draw more students running for office. However, candidates who stand a chance at winning elections will not be stereotypical college students filing their papers and then walking over to Thirsty Turtle with a fake ID. They’ll be ambitious, politically motivated young people who were involved in Young Democrats or Young Republicans in high school, interned for a politician or ran for a position in the Student Government Association. In order to stand a prospect at winning, they’ll have to go to civic association meetings, knock on doors, develop a platform and genuinely build a connection with city residents. These will be the students who are more likely to stay involved in the city after they run because of their newfound connection with the community, as are their student supporters. Some may end up living here.

What if a student wins? They’re probably very smart and talented for their age if they can pull it off. All people are different, and most students aren’t interested or qualified, but there are exceptional 18 to 20 year olds who are mature beyond their years and would be effective on the city council.

Lowering the running age will mean greater involvement in bettering College Park, which is something that should make every member of the city council smile, and vote yes.

Matt Dernoga is a graduate student in public policy and is the son of  Tom Dernoga, the chairman of the Prince George’s County Council. He can be reached at dernoga at umdbk dot com


October 15, 2010

Obama Administration Environmental News

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 10:59 pm
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The Environmental Protection Agency has been kind enough to begin sending out regular e-mail updates with press releases about actions difference agencies in the administration are doing to move us forward on sustainability.  Below are a few highlights from the e-mail.

Climate Change Adaptation Task Force

On October 14, 2010, the Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, co-chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), released its interagency report outlining recommendations to President Obama for how Federal Agency policies and programs can better prepare the United States to respond to the impacts of climate change.  The report recommends that the Federal Government implement actions to expand and strengthen the Nation’s capacity to better understand, prepare for, and respond to climate change.  These recommended actions include:

  • Make adaptation a standard part of Agency planning to ensure that resources are invested wisely and services and operations remain effective in a changing climate.
  • Ensure scientific information about the impacts of climate change is easily accessible so public and private sector decision-makers can build adaptive capacity into their plans and activities.
  • Align Federal efforts to respond to climate impacts that cut across jurisdictions and missions, such as those that threaten water resources, public health, oceans and coasts, and communities.
  • Develop a U.S. strategy to support international adaptation that leverages resources across the Federal Governmentto help developing countries reduce their vulnerability to climate change through programs that are consistent with the core principles and objectives of the President’s new Global Development Policy.
  • Build strong partnerships to support local, state, and tribal decision makers in improving management of places and infrastructure most likely to be affected by climate change.

The Task Force’s work has been guided by a strategic vision of a resilient, healthy, and prosperous Nation in the face of a changing climate.  To achieve this vision, the Task Force identified a set of guiding principles that public and private decision-makers should consider in designing and implementing adaptation strategies.  They include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Adopt Integrated Approaches:  Adaptation should be incorporated into core policies, planning, practices, and programs whenever possible.
  • Prioritize the Most Vulnerable:  Adaptation strategies should help people, places, and infrastructure that are most vulnerable to climate impacts and be designed and implemented with meaningful involvement from all parts of society.
  • Use Best-Available Science:  Adaptation should be grounded in the best-available scientific understanding of climate change risks, impacts, and vulnerabilities.
  • Apply Risk-Management Methods and Tools:  Adaptation planning should incorporate risk-management methods and tools to help identify, assess, and prioritize options to reduce vulnerability to potential environmental, social, and economic implications of climate change.
  • Apply Ecosystem-based Approaches:  Adaptation should, where appropriate, take into account strategies to increase ecosystem resilience and protect critical ecosystem services on which humans depend, to reduce vulnerability of human and natural systems to climate change.

The Task Force will continue to meet over the next year as an interagency forum for discussing the Federal Government’s adaptation approach and to support and monitor the implementation of recommended actions in the Progress Report.  It will prepare another report in October 2011 that documents progress toward implementing its recommendations and provides additional recommendations for refining the Federal approach to adaptation, as appropriate.


The Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Progress Report is available here.


Department of Energy Offers Conditional Commitment for a Loan Guarantee to Support World’s Largest Wind Project

Recovery Act-Supported Loan Will Create Jobs and Avoid Over 1.2 Million Tons of Carbon Pollution Annually


Washington – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced a conditional commitment to provide a partial guarantee for a $1.3 billion loan in support of the world’s largest wind farm to date.  The loan will finance the Caithness Shepherds Flat wind project, an 845 megawatt wind-powered electrical generating facility in eastern Oregon sponsored by Caithness Energy LLC and General Electric (GE) Energy Financial Services.


“Thanks to the Recovery Act, we are creating the clean energy jobs of the future while positioning the U.S. as a world leader in the production of renewable energy,” said Secretary Chu.  “This project is part of the Administration’s commitment to doubling our renewable energy generation by 2012 while putting Americans to work in communities across the country.”


The Caithness Shepherds Flat wind project consists of 338 wind turbines supplied by GE.  The project will use GE’s 2.5xl turbines, which are designed to provide high efficiency and increased reliability, maintainability and grid integration. The wind farm is the first in North America to deploy these turbines, which have been used in Europe and Asia.  Once completed, the project will sell 100 percent of the power generated to Southern California Edison through 20-year fixed price power purchase agreements.  The wind facility will avoid 1,215,991 tons of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 212,141 passenger vehicles. According to Caithness, the project will directly create 400 construction jobs, followed by 35 permanent jobs on site.


The Caithness Shepherds Flat project is the largest project to date to receive an offer of a conditional commitment for a loan guarantee under the Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP), a Department of Energy program supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  In a FIPP financing, the Department of Energy guarantees up to 80 percent of a loan provided to a renewable energy project by qualified financial institutions.  The $1.3 billion loan is expected to be funded by a group of institutional investors and commercial banks led by Citi, as lender-applicant and joint lead arranger, and three other joint lead arrangers, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd., RBS Securities and WestLB Securities Inc.


For more information, please visit


EPA Awards $1.5 Million in Environmental Education Grants

WASHINGTON – In an effort to improve environmental literacy and stewardship across the country, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded more than $1.5 million in grants to 14 organizations in 11 states and the District of Columbia.  The organizations will use the money to fund environmental education efforts, which work to inform the public of environmental issues and help them make educated choices on actions they can take to reduce negative environmental impacts.


“Every American community relies on clean air, water and land for their environmental and economic health. We want to help expand awareness on how they can get involved in environmental protection,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. ”These grants will help communities across the country show how a clean environment starts at home.”


The grants help EPA expand the conversation on environmentalism by increasing the number of underserved audiences that participate in the agency’s programs and activities. This year, some of the grant money went toward helping tribal communities set up leadership programs, letting students step outside the classroom in order to learn about the environment, and working to help students understand the importance of water quality, among many other projects. Highlights from this year’s recipients include:


  • The Native Wellness Institute of Portland, Ore. received $102,000 to implement the “Native Youth Environment Warriors” project, which will provide environmental education and leadership training and support to native youth and their community mentors to design and implement environmental projects in their tribal communities.


  • The Island Institute of Rockland, Maine received nearly $124,000 for the “Energy for Maine” project, which includes community discussions and analysis of renewable energy sources. The project is aiming to increase home and school energy efficiency through student/teacher, and family-generated solutions for reducing energy consumption.


The annual awards are given to nonprofit organizations, government agencies, community groups, schools and universities. The recipients of the 2010 competition represent a mix of organizations addressing a variety of environmental issues from climate change to water quality, and dealing with local, regional, or national issues.


EPA awards the funds under the 1990 National Environmental Education Act, which gives the agency the authority to support and create environmental education programs nationwide.


More information about EPA’s environmental education grants recipients:


EPA Awards $1.9 Million in Environmental Justice Grants
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $1.9 million in environmental justice grants to 76 non-profit organizations and local governments working on environmental justice issues nationwide. The grants are designed to help communities understand and address environmental challenges and create self-sustaining, community-based partnerships focused on improving human health and the environment at the local level. The grant program supports Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priority to expand the conversation on environmentalism and work for environmental justice.

“Through our efforts to support local environmental justice projects, we are advancing EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment in communities overburdened by pollution,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Providing training to develop a skilled green workforce will help communities become more resilient in the face of economic and environmental changes and help build healthy and sustainable communities.”

The principles of environmental justice uphold the idea that all communities overburdened by pollution – particularly minority, low income and indigenous communities – deserve the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, equal access to the decision-making process and a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

In addition to the traditional criteria, EPA encouraged applications focused on addressing the disproportionate impacts of climate change in communities by emphasizing climate equity, energy efficiency, renewable energy, local green economy, and green jobs capacity building. Grantee projects include trainings for local residents to increase recycling, avoiding heat stroke, improving indoor air quality, reducing carbon emissions through weatherization, and green jobs training programs.

Since 1994, the Environmental Justice Small Grants program has provided more than $21 million in funding to community-based nonprofit organizations and local governments working to address environmental justice issues in more than 1,200 communities. The $1.9 million in grant funding announced today is the largest amount of total funding in one year for environmental justice grants in more than a decade. The grant awards represent EPA’s commitment to promoting community-based actions to address environmental justice issues.

More information on the Environmental Justice Small Grants program and a list of grantees:






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