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DEC announces environmental justice grants

ALBANY New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) commissioner Pete Grannis today announced 50 projects that were awarded 2008 Environmental Justice Community Impact Grants to organizations serving communities across the state that face multiple sources of environmental harms and risks. The Environmental Justice grants we are awarding today will support community gardens, environmental education programs for kids, and other environmental projects in low-income communities, said Gov. David A. Paterson. These communities, many of which bear significant environmental burdens from polluting facilities and have inadequate open space, deserve special attention from government. I am proud to support this initiative and will continue to work on improving the quality of life in environmental justice communities. Working with our communities to help protect our environment and public health is a top priority for DEC, said Grannis. Programs like the EJ Grants are critically important components of this effort. The complete list of winners, along with project desInterest in the Environmental Justice Community Impact Grant program has grown dramatically. This year, 92 groups from around the state applied for funding. Detailed reviews by DEC staff resulted in 50 grant awards totaling $1,663,258. Individual awards range from $14,500 to $50,000. A wide variety of projects will be supported this year, including community gardens and green roofs, air and water quality monitoring, lead poisoning prevention, urban forestry, subsistence fishing education, environmental education for urban youth, inventories of local pollution sources, and an international climate justice conference. The funding comes from the Environmental Justice Community Impact Research Grant (EJ Grant) program. Launched in 2006, the program helps local organizations with projects that address environmental and/or public health concerns. The program concentrates on communities that have historically been overburdened by problems such as a high density of contaminated sites, noise, air and water pollution, health problems and lack of green space and waterfront access. The EJ Grants program, which was created with input from the DEC Environmental Justice Advisory Group, helps communities understand and mitigate environmental harms or risks and improve their quality of life. For more information on the EJ Grants Program or the Environmental Justice Advisory Group, visit the DEC website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/public/333.html . Projects eligible to receive EJ Grants include, but are not limited to: inventories of polluting facilities in the community; air monitoring; green rooftops; urban tree planting; community gardens; alternative energy projects; and lead and mercury removal projects. To date, funding requests in grant applications have ranged from $5,500 to the maximum grant award of $50,000.

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