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EPA awards university $10 million for new environmental justice center that will 'work with communities to build a more equitable world’
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EPA awards university $10 million for new environmental justice center that will 'work with communities to build a more equitable world’

Last week, the University of Arizona announced that the Biden administration’s Environmental Protection Agency awarded the school a $10 million grant for a new environmental justice center that will “work with communities to build a more equitable world.”

The substantial award will fund the new Western Environmental Science Technical Assistance Center for Environmental Justice for five years. The center will be led by Paloma Beamer, professor in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at UArizona Health Sciences.

The University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins praised Beamer for her environmental work.

“Our public health and environmental researchers here at the University of Arizona are among the best in the country, and I’m proud to see their expertise and experience recognized in this Environmental Justice Center grant from the EPA,” Robbins said. “Dr. Paloma Beamer has shown exceptional leadership in environmental justice, and this new funding, combined with our existing relationships and knowledge, is going to enable us to work with communities to build a more equitable world.”

The university’s press release noted that "environmental justice" is "defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies."

The grant will fund the “EPA’s promise of clean air, land and water,” which the university stated has not successfully “reached many historically marginalized communities due to a complex interaction of physical, social and economic factors.”

“The WEST EJ Center is one of 17 Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers selected as part of a new program launched by the EPA in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. The centers will help underserved and overburdened communities across the country access funds from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, including historic investments to advance environmental justice,” the university said.

The center’s team will focus on researching and implementing so-called environmental justice projects in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the U.S. Pacific Islands.

Beamer and her team will provide communities with resources, support, assistance, and training, such as applying for grants and other funding opportunities. They will also work to “increase community involvement in environmental and energy decision-making through training in advocacy, environmental science, climate change, public health, energy infrastructure and student internship programs.”

Following a “hub-and-spoke model,” the center will be broken up into several units, including the Indigenous Resilience Center, the Participatory Evaluation Institute, the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center, and the Western Region Public Health Training Center, which represent a coalition consisting of “five partners that have deep community-based networks and knowledge about environmental and energy justice needs.”

UArizona senior vice president for research and innovation Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell stated, “The right to a safe and sustainable environment for all is unfortunately not equally accessible to all, and many people live with polluted air and water, unsafe homes and food insecurity.”

“This grant will help us meet people where they are in terms of need, and drive solution-focused action and resources that will stay embedded in our communities to increase the likelihood of long-term change,” Cantwell added.

All relevant parties have not replied to a request for comment, Campus Reform reported.

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Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway

Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.
@candace_phx →