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News Releases from Region 10

$120,000 in EPA funds to target environmental, public health challenges of waste in AK rural villages

Contact Information: 
Bill Dunbar (

WASHINGTON - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a total of $1.2 million in cooperative agreements awarded to 10 organizations across the U.S. – including Zender Environmental Health & Research Group, a nonprofit organization in Alaska -- working to address environmental justice (EJ) issues in their communities.

The funding is provided through EPA's Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) program, which supports local organizations in their efforts to develop and implement community-driven solutions that address environmental and public health disparities in minority, low-income, tribal and indigenous populations.  Projects selected this year reflect an emphasis on support for rural communities and watershed protection.

“These awards will go directly to locally based organizations working to improve health and quality of life in historically underserved areas,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are proud to be supporting local partnerships in rural communities and excited about the additional support made possible this year through EPA’s Urban Waters program.”

The 2018 awards provide up to $120,000 per project for a two-year project period.  Special consideration this year was given to projects located in rural areas, with the goal of increasing outreach and community capacity building in areas where such resources can be particularly scarce.  Eight of the ten total projects awarded are in rural areas.

Zender Environmental Health & Research Group and partners in Alaska will pilot a backhauling program to address waste issues in 30 rural Alaska Native Villages located off the road system and only accessible by summer barge/boat or small plane.  The project builds community capacity and leadership for villages to carry out a state-wide backhauling program where 160 villages use barges and small planes to transport their waste from tribal lands to proper landfills and other disposal facilities.

For the first time, EPA’s Urban Waters program provided funding for projects, sponsoring work in two communities.  By adopting a watershed approach, these projects will help improve the quality of local waterways and strengthen community connections to them.

The 10 community projects were selected from 72 applications

For more information on the EJ Collaborative Problem-Solving, including descriptions of previously funded grants: