EPA Establishes Environmental Assistance Center in Arizona to Advance Environmental Justice in the West
Great news, Arizona! The University of Arizona has been granted $10 million by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of the Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (EJ TCTAC) program. This nationwide initiative will establish 17 centers to provide technical assistance to communities in need. The University of Arizona will utilize the funding to create the Western Environmental Science Technical Assistance Center for Environmental Justice, also referred to as the West EJ Center. This investment is part of the EPA’s efforts to address environmental injustices affecting marginalized communities.
The West EJ Center will serve as a centralized resource hub, offering technical assistance, training, and other forms of support primarily to underserved communities within EPA Region 9, encompassing Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and 148 tribes. It will operate in conjunction with a coalition of five partners, namely the Sonoran Environmental Research Institute (SERI), Public Health Institute (PHI), University of Southern California (USC), Larson Institute for Health Impact and Equity, and Hawaii Public Health Institute (HIPHI). The University of Arizona will also work in close collaboration with the San Diego State University Foundation, which has also been chosen to receive an EJ TCTAC award for assisting communities within the region.
The center aims to serve as an authentic partner to communities working toward environmental and energy justice, primarily through three main initiatives:
- Providing assistance and training to identify, apply for, and manage grants and other funding opportunities.
- Increasing community involvement in environmental and energy decision-making through training in advocacy, environmental science, climate change, public health, and energy infrastructure, and a “Community Champion” and student internship program.
- Providing access to environmental and energy experts that can assist program participants with environmental justice analysis, study design, protocol development, and project management.
The West EJ Center, set to begin operations in June 2023, represents a significant step forward in promoting the region’s environmental justice and clean energy initiatives. This is particularly important considering the environmental challenges faced by Arizona, including water scarcity, droughts, air pollution, and toxic waste. The center will promote environmental equity and community involvement in the state by offering technical assistance and training to overcome barriers that hinder access to federal resources. By doing so, the center will increase the accessibility of underrepresented communities to apply for these resources while encouraging their active participation in environmental and energy decision-making processes.
The EPA’s investment marks a promising milestone in the journey towards a cleaner and more sustainable future for Arizona. By prioritizing initiatives that promote environmental justice and clean energy, we can effectively tackle the environmental challenges faced by the region. With this in mind, we are excited about the positive impact that the center will have, and we remain committed to further investments that will drive progress toward a greener and brighter future for all.