TCAT Awarded Environmental Justice Grant from the US EPA in the amount $75,000

The Thurston Climate Action Team (TCAT) has been awarded an Environmental Justice Small Grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the amount $75,000.  

Thurston County has been one of the fastest-growing counties in Washington State since the 1960s, consistently exceeding the state’s overall rate of growth, and the racial and ethnic makeup of Thurston County continues to become more diverse. For 2015-2019, 82% of Thurston County residents classified themselves as “white alone”, and Lacey continues to be the most diverse of Thurston County’s cities and towns, with only 71% identifying as white alone. The Hispanic and Latino population in Thurston County, which may include persons of any race, is also increasing, growing from 5% in 2000 to 10% for 2015-2019.

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.”

According to TCAT Executive Director Melinda Hughes, “The effects of climate change affect everyone but generally affects the most vulnerable populations even greater. This includes communities of low-income or black, indigenous, or people of color communities. Thurston County is exceptionally susceptible as we lie at the base of the Puget Sound where pollution travels to via downwind and downstream avenues, putting us at even greater environmental hazard risk than those in King and Pierce Counties.”  

Hughes continued, “This grant will allow us to work closer with our BIPOC neighbors, helping them to better prepare their homes for effects related to climate change whether it be from wildfire smoke or other air pollutants. We also plan to help with water and electric conservation.”

She added, “This is TCAT’s first federal grant submission, so we’re really excited it was awarded, especially as we work with our neighbors and jurisdictional leaders to combat climate change together under the Thurston Climate Mitigation Plan. Working together we can accomplish so much more to secure a more stable environment for future generations.”

According to the US EPA website, the Environmental Justice Small Business Grant program since inception in 1994 has awarded more than $29 million in funding to over 1400 community-based organizations, tribal governments, and Native American organizations working with communities facing environmental justice issues. The goals of the program is to support and empower communities working on solutions to local environmental and public health issues.

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