Climate and Environmental Justice Resources

February 14, 2024

Environmental Justice - SCS Engineers
Executive Order 12898: Thirty Years Later. An important action in the Environmental Justice Movement.


Thirty years ago this week, on February 11, 1994, then-President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice In Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. The Executive Order marked the first government action on environmental justice and an important part of the environmental justice movement.

Executive Order 12898 directed government agencies (particularly the US Environmental Protection Agency or EPA) to develop plans and strategies to help address any disproportionally high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs on minority and low-income populations.


Executive Order 12898 responded to changes that began during the Civil Rights Movement. Minority groups, particularly African Americans, began to object to discriminatory practices long entrenched in government policy. The most notable being the practice of “redlining.” In the 1930s, the United States worked to end the Great Depression. To encourage banks to lend money for mortgages, the federal government began insuring or underwriting housing loans; however, government inspectors designated African American and immigrant neighborhoods uninsurable, and the residents could not obtain loans. Landlords were not vested in maintaining their properties, and much of the housing became sub-standard. Inexpensive swaths of property inside city limits encouraged businesses and industry to purchase and develop this land, increasing pollution from traffic, industrial processes, and edging out small businesses.

Solid Waste Disposal

In 1979, Texas Southern University sociologist Robert D Bullard, Ph.D., studied solid waste disposal sites in Houston, Texas, for a class-action lawsuit seeking to prevent the siting of a new landfill near the Northwood Manner subdivision, a Black, middle-class neighborhood. Dr. Bullard’s work found that five out of five city-owned landfills and six of the eight city-owned incinerators were in Black neighborhoods. While the case was lost, it increased awareness of environmental issues in minority communities.

Hazardous Waste

In 1982, North Carolina sited a toxic waste landfill in Afton, a rural Black community in Warren County, to hold 40,000 cubic tons of polychlorinated biphenyls from illegally dumped contaminated soil along state roads and highways. For six weeks, residents and activists protested, marking what many consider the birth of the Environmental Justice Movement. The contaminated soil ultimately went into the landfill and eventually caused a release that cost the state $18 million to clean up.

In subsequent years, the movement began to attract the attention of public officials. In 1983, the US General Accounting Office Study released the location of Hazardous Waste Landfills. It took another seven years before the federal government began to consider policy change when, in 1990, the Environmental Equity Workgroup was formed to gather information and make recommendations to the government, leading to the creation of EO 12898.

Gaining Traction

Throughout the 2010s, the EPA published a series of plans and guidance documents, including the public release of EJScreen in 2014, the Technical Guidance for Assessing Environmental Justice in Regulatory Analysis, and the Environmental Justice Research Roadmap in 2016.

In 2022, EPA Administrator Michael Regan traveled to Warren County, North Carolina, to officially create the new Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights. Several people involved in the 1982 PCB protests were in attendance.

Today’s Protections

State and federal environmental permitting now requires Environmental Justice (EJ) reviews. Fortunately, most, if not all, of the necessary EJ review data is publicly available online. For example, environmental professionals use EPA’s EJScreen regularly for EJ reviews, and many states have developed or are developing interactive data tools.

In the past decade, the US Census Bureau developed a searchable, interactive online database, and in 2021, the US Council of Environmental Quality released the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. Other online data sources include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs, and individual state, county, and tribal organizations. These data not only allow us to meet permitting requirements and identify community challenges but also help guide outreach and facilitate communication with stakeholders.

On April 21, 2023, President Biden signed Executive Order 14096, Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All, expanding upon the direction and intent of EO 12898. Thirty years on, we can see the effects of EO 12898 on incorporating environmental justice into environmental policy so that all people can have a healthier, safer, greener place to live, work, and play.


For more information on the Environmental Justice Movement, we encourage you to visit EPA’s website at



Candy ElliottMeet Candy Elliott, PG. Candy brings her scientific perspective and experience as an Environmental Justice expert to support disadvantaged communities marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. She helps make impactful changes through her work experience with site characterization, site assessment and remediation, brownfields, groundwater monitoring and reporting, groundwater corrective action, mining, and other industrial facility or site development projects.

These sites often provide excellent locations with existing infrastructure and transportation but with the need to clean the soil or, in some cases, mitigate other potential health risks to emerge as excellent opportunities for economic revitalization efforts and for creating green spaces.

Posted by Diane Samuels at 6:00 am

November 22, 2023

Grants - SCS Engineers

The Community Change Grants Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), administered through the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights (OEJECR), has several unique characteristics to advance environmental and climate justice, many of which are responsive to feedback and input the agency has heard from communities. The NOFO will be open for a year, closing on November 21, 2024, and the EPA will review applications on a rolling basis. This allows applicants to utilize technical assistance and possibly resubmit a new application if not initially selected. EPA encourages applicants to apply as early as possible.

OEJECR will also host multiple informational webinars while the NOFO is open, with the first being held on December 7, 2023. These webinars will address questions, and some may facilitate the formation of partnerships and information sharing. More information on upcoming webinars can be found on EPA’s Inflation Reduction Act Community Change Grants Program webpage.

Community Change Grants will deliver 100 percent of the benefits of this program to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution. This program also dedicates $200 million of Inflation Reduction Act funding to provide technical assistance to applicants and grant recipients, which will enhance the ability of disadvantaged communities to access resources for environmental and climate justice activities. The activities to be performed under the grants are expected to fall under the following categories:

  • Climate resiliency and adaptation.
  • Mitigating climate and health risks from urban heat islands, extreme heat, wood heater emissions, and wildfire events.
  • Community-led air and other (including water and waste) pollution monitoring, prevention, and remediation.
  • Investments in low- and zero-emission and resilient technologies and related infrastructure.
  • Workforce development that supports the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants.
  • Reducing indoor toxins and indoor air pollution.
  • Facilitating the engagement of disadvantaged communities in state and federal advisory groups, workshops, rulemaking, and other public processes.

Environmental engineers, consultants, and scientists at SCS devise and implement solutions for pollution, energy consumption and emissions reductions, land remediation, water/wastewater treatment, and waste management. For assistance with Community Change Grants, contact or visit SCS’s Brownfields and Voluntary Remediation site.



Posted by Diane Samuels at 8:45 am

November 2, 2023

Help with EPA Resources
Navigating EPA’s Climate and Environmental Justice resources and grant programs.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced the launch of the Community, Equity & Resiliency initiative to help communities navigate funding opportunities. EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation and Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights are facilitating community-driven partnerships and providing a place for communities to learn, network, and cultivate ideas on how to access the resources, especially in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Climate and Environmental Justice Resources

EPA will host live virtual and in-person events, including panel discussions and fireside chats featuring environmental leaders and their peers, to help community-based organizations, community partners, and potential grant applicants navigate funding opportunities. These engagements are designed to spark ideas on taking advantage of Investing in America programs while considering each community’s unique context when confronting the climate crisis and advancing environmental and climate justice.


EPA’s new Community, Equity & Resiliency website offers information on multiple funding opportunities and resources to ensure community-driven partnerships can inspire meaningful change in their communities.

To learn more about the effort, visit EPA’s new Community, Equity & Resiliency webpage.

Virtual Open House, November 6-14 

On Monday, November 6, 2023, EPA will kick off the Community, Equity & Resiliency initiative with a National Virtual Open House that is open to the public. This six-day event will include a series of virtual panels and fireside chats featuring prominent environmental leaders and peers discussing their ideas to overcome environmental pollution and climate change challenges through funding opportunities that are now available. Panel and fireside chat topics will include climate change in rural communities, green jobs, electric vehicle infrastructure, technical assistance, and more.

Register for the National Virtual Open House

Regional Roadshows

Starting this winter, EPA will host in-person, community-based Regional Roadshow events. These will provide opportunities for community leaders to develop or leverage existing community-based partnerships and dream and cultivate ideas on the Inflation Reduction Act and other new Investing in America programs. More details on the Regional Roadshow will be available soon.


We’ll keep you posted, and as always, we’re here to help your community meet its social, economic, and environmental goals – sustainably. Find us at





Posted by Diane Samuels at 4:00 pm