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Inflation Reduction Act Environmental and Climate Justice Program: Recommendations

By Ansha Zaman, Apr 15, 2023

Earlier this month, the Center for Earth, Energy, and Democracy (CEED) together with other member organizations of the Equitable and Just National Climate Forum (EJNCF) took part in a Request for Information (RFI) process on the Inflation Reduction Act and Climate Justice Program. The Equitable and Just National Climate Forum (EJNCF) is a coalition of environmental groups and environmental justice organizations working together to center environmental justice in federal climate policy making. 

The newly created $3 billion Environmental and Climate Justice (ECJ) program from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a critical opportunity to protect the fundamental right of all people in America to a clean and healthy environment. The program supports “the health, equity, and resilience of disadvantaged communities” and works to “address past, current, and future environmental climate and justice challenges,” which are shared goals of the Equitable and Just National Climate Forum (EJNCF). In order to ensure these values are the front and center of the program, CEED and EJNCF members developed recommendations to advocate for an equitable and just process to make sure funds are directed to historically disinvested communities. All recommendations submitted as part of this process can better help our communities understand and gain access to much-needed government funds to address environmental injustices like the impacts of a changing climate and legacy pollution.

The design and launch of the ECJ Program creates an indispensable opportunity to reduce and prevent disproportionate pollution burdens in communities of color and low-income communities and to secure the following:

  • A healthy climate and air quality for all 
  • Access to affordable, pollution-free electricity and transportation, clean water, and affordable housing for every community 
  • An inclusive, just and equitable economy with high-quality jobs
  • Safe, healthy communities and infrastructure.   

Environmental justice communities–including low-income and Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities–have for too long been on the front lines of our nation’s most dangerous environmental and health hazards. Power plants and other industrial facilities are disproportionately sited in communities of color and low income areas, creating air and water pollution that leads to higher rates of cancer, asthma, and other life-threatening health problems. Roads and highways, many of which were intentionally built through communities of color, bring pollution from gas-powered cars and diesel-fueled trucks to surrounding neighborhoods. Environmental justice communities also experience inequitable living conditions tied to chronic disinvestment and structural racism (such as the continued harmful legacy of mortgage redlining practices), including crumbling infrastructure and lack of green spaces and tree canopy, that increase their vulnerability to climate change and limit the resources available to cope with and recover from climate impacts. For example, heat waves are responsible for more deaths every year than any other extreme weather event—with the highest risks in Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, where many don’t have access to air conditioning and neighborhoods lack parks, green spaces and tree cover, which help to bring down temperatures.

The equitable implementation of funding streams like the Environmental and Climate Justice (ECJ) program can help right these wrongs. We must continue to advocate for inclusive federal grant processes that value the diversity of the country we live in and the dire need to take action from plans by communities and for communities. It is vital that community organizations, groups, and other stakeholders from environmental justice communities are included and heard in these RFI processes to inform the creation and allocation of funding for communities on the frontlines of climate injustices.

The following groups are members of the Equitable and Just National Climate Forum (EJNCF): 

Center for American Progress

Center for Earth Energy & Democracy

Deep South Center for Environmental Justice 


East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice for Health Alliance and Chemical Policy Reform

Green Door Initiative 

Kean University

League of Conservation Voters

Los Jardines Institute

Midwest Environmental Justice Network

Natural Resource Defense Council 

New Jersey Environmental Justice Alliance 

Regenesis Institute

Sierra Club 

The Harambee House / Citizens for Environmental Justice 

Tishman Environment and Design Center, The New School 

Union of Concerned Scientists 

WeACT for Environmental Justice


Equitable and Just National Climate Forum (EJNCF) EPA ECJ RFI Response, April 10, 2023

Inflation Reduction Act Environmental and Climate Justice Program – Environmental Protection Agency. Accessed on April 13, 2023.

Environmental Justice: Human Health and Environmental Inequalities by Robert J. Brulle, David N. Pellow (2006). Annual Review of Public Health.

Clean and White: A History of Environmental Racism in the United States by Carl A. Zimring (2015) New York University Press; New York, NY, USA.

Toxic wastes and race at twenty 1987–2007: Grassroots struggles to dismantle environmental racism in the United States by Dr. Robert  D.Bullard, Paul Mohai, Robin Saha, and Dr. Beverly Wright (2007). Cleveland, OH: United Church Christ Justice & Witness Ministries: 2007

Environmental Quality and the US Power Sector: Air Quality, Land Use and Environmental Justice by Emanuele Massetti, Marilyn Brown, Melissa Lapsa, Isha Sharma, James Bradbury, Colin Cunliff, Yufei Li (2007). Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Building Technologies Research and Integration Center (BTRIC)

PM2.5 polluters disproportionately and systemically affect people of color in the United States by Christopher W. Tessum, David Paolella,  Sarah Chambliss, Joshua Apte, Jason Hill, Julian Marshall (2001). Science Advance, 7, 4491– 4519

 ‘White Men’s Roads Through Black Men’s Homes’: Advancing Racial Equity Through Highway Reconstruction by Deborah N. Archer (2020). 73 Vanderbilt Law Review 1259, NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 20-49. 

The legacy of structural racism: Associations between historic redlining, current mortgage lending, and health by  Emily E. Lynch, Lorraine Halinka Malcoe, Sarah E. Laurent, Jason Richardson, Bruce Mitchell (2021) Meier HCS.SSM Popul Health

The Effects of Historical Housing Policies on Resident Exposure to Intra-Urban Heat: A Study of 108 US Urban Areas by Jeremy S. Hoffman,, Vivek Shandas, and Nicholas Pendleton (2020). Climate 8, no. 1: 12

Why Extreme Heat Is So Deadly by Tanya Lewis (2021)  Scientific American

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