EPA Spent COVID Relief Money On ‘Environmental Justice,’ ‘Tree Walks’

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Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spent millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief money on projects that had little to do with the pandemic.

The agency awarded grants totaling nearly $7 million to nonprofits and tribal governments for projects related to environmental justice, green infrastructure and climate change education, Fox News first reported. The EPA is now collecting applications for 2022’s spending from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed last year.

The Environmental Justice Small Grants Program within the EPA announced it is spending $1.6 million in ARP funds to give to “federally recognized tribal governments to establish or modify public participation programs where fair treatment and meaningful participation priorities” were impacted by the pandemic.

In 2021, the program awarded roughly $7.4 million to 99 organizations to address “health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID-19 pandemic.” $5.25 million came from ARP funds, Fox News noted.

The Massachusetts-based group Speak for the Trees received a grant for a project which would use storytelling and “tree walks” to raise awareness about “inequitable tree canopy cover” and the impact of that on health. Teaching Responsible Earth Education in New Orleans got money to create a school curriculum which educates younger students about environmental justice and climate change, according to Fox News.

Clean Air Carolina, an organization in Charlotte, North Carolina, was one of several groups which received grant money to install electric vehicle charging stations, the outlet reported. (RELATED: Cash, Sports Tickets, Weed, Booze, AirPods And More: Here Are Some Of The Wildest COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives)

An EPA spokesperson said the ARP money “allows communities to implement solutions that can improve conditions related to COVID-19 such as air quality issues” in a statement to Fox News. They added that all of the grants were rigorously reviewed to ensure they aligned with the goals of the American Rescue Plan.