EPA’s Initial Guidance on $27 Billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund will Provide Health, Economic, and Wealth-Building Benefits to Communities

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its initial program design guidance for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GHGRF or “fund”). This key environmental justice and climate provision of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act will help provide direct investment toward climate mitigation and resilience projects in communities across the country.

“The EPA’s initial guidance for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund states that at least 55% of the fund will provide financial and technical assistance for low-income and disadvantaged communities. This is a positive step towards making the just transition affordable and accessible to those most in need,” said Jessica Garcia, climate finance policy analyst at Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund. “The EPA should continue collecting feedback from the directly impacted communities that this fund aims to serve and developing robust criteria for its applicants to achieve its dual directive of protecting communities from climate impacts and providing them financial tools to safeguard their future. ”

According to the guidance, at least $15 billion of the $27 billion fund will benefit low-income and disadvantaged communities, and there will be two award competitions. The $20 billion General and Low-Income Assistance Competition will set aside at least $8 billion for low-income and disadvantaged communities, and the entire $7 billion Zero-Emissions Technology Fund Competition will benefit those communities. The EPA will release more details in its Notices of Funding Opportunities in early Summer 2023.

“The EPA’s commitment to facilitate technical assistance and capacity building to strengthen community-based organizations will be a step forward in helping them prepare for the impacts the climate crisis will bring,” said Ishmael Buckner, policy advocate with Public Citizen’s Climate Program. “Enabling disadvantaged communities to participate in an equitable transition toward lowering greenhouse gas emissions must be a key part of this program. As the EPA begins to act, we hope this program will catalyze the jobs of the future while mitigating climate risk for disadvantaged communities. It is vital that the EPA’s competition guidance set forth eligibility criteria and strong reporting and accountability requirements to ensure that selected fund recipients meet the needs of communities and the greenhouse gas reduction goals.”

“The EPA’s guidance–if well executed–means the GHGRF will meet President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative goals by directing at least 55% of the benefits to disadvantaged and environmental justice communities,” said Garcia. “As the EPA develops requirements for these grant competitions and makes decisions on program design, eligible recipients, and eligible projects, it should continue to align them with Justice 40, which requires that 40% of the funds flow directly to said communities.”

Americans for Financial Reform, Public Citizen, and partners submitted comments to EPA in response to their Request for Information on the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. Organizations, communities, and individuals are also invited to participate in the EPA’s newly-announced national community roundtable series to provide the agency feedback on solutions that will benefit them the most.

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