Via Teleconference 

3:34 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Administrator Regan.  And I have to tell you, it is my honor to serve with you in the President’s administration.  The work that you have been doing has been bold, courageous, and transformative.  So, thank you, Administrator Regan, for the introduction.

And, to everyone, greetings.  And — and, Dr. Bullard, thank you as well because you have been a true giant of the environmental justice movement.  And so, to everyone, thank you all for joining us today.

In the United States of America, I think we all know every person should have the right to drink clean water, breathe clean air, and live in a community that is healthy and safe.  Yet, today, millions of people in our nation are denied that right. 

For generations, low-income communities, immigrant communities, Native communities, and communities of color have endured disproportionate levels of air, water, and soil pollution.  These communities are also often hardest hit by the climate-driven extreme weather: hurricanes, floods, wildfires, and extreme heat.

As Administrator Regan mentioned — as Administrator Regan mentioned, I have fought my entire career to address these inequities and advance environmental justice, including here in the White House.  President Joe Biden and I have put equity at the center of all of our climate investments. 

And today, to continue our work, I am proud to announce we are providing $600 million to 11 organizations with close community ties to fund thousands of local environmental justice projects.  For example, these grants could help a nonprofit in, say, Atlanta monitor air pollution levels or help a middle school in Indian Country create a summer program to teach young leaders about environmental science.

And this investment is important not only because of the projects it will fund, but because of its innovative structure.  For a long time, we’ve heard from leaders in the environmental justice movement that a significant hurdle to funding their work is the federal grant-making process itself.  Applications can take years to be approved.  And, in general, the process favors larger national organizations over smaller local organizations. 

To address these challenges, instead of this investment being administered at the federal level, we have selected 11 well-trusted and well-established community organizations to lead the grant-making process. 

And here are two big reasons why this matters. 

First, speed.  These organizations will be able to review and approve grant applications faster — not with all the bureaucracy; not in years, but in months.  This means our investment will hit the streets more quickly.

Second, impact.  These organizations are run by people who live and work in the communities they serve, leaders who understand intuitively the needs and the incredible capacity of the place in which they live and, therefore, are uniquely well positioned to ensure these grants make a real impact.

And to be clear, the $600 million investment is a down payment.  President Biden and I will continue to fight to make sure all communities have the resources they need to advance environmental justice and to make sure all people can breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live in a healthy community.

And with that, again, I thank everyone.  And I will now turn it back to Administrator Regan. 

And, again, thank you for your leadership. 

And, to everyone, please take care.

END                     3:37 P.M. EST

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