Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: $150 million to Alaska Native villages for green energy, climate resilience

Federally recognized Tribes in Alaska will receive $150 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for clean energy projects and climate resilience initiatives to address environmental and climate justice challenges.

“I am glad to see this dedication of at least $150 million to address contaminated lands, pollution reduction and climate adaptation in Alaska,” U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola said in a press release. “This is an important step in improving the quality of life of many Alaska Native communities, including those who have been dealing with contaminated lands left behind by the federal government for decades.”

The funds are part of the Community Change Grants program, a $2 billion investment in climate resilience made possible by the Biden Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act.

“This historic, unprecedented funding has the promise to turn disadvantaged and overburdened areas into healthy, resilient, and thriving communities for current and future generations,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said.

According to the EPA, much of the land transferred to Alaska Native corporations under ANCSA (Alaska Native Claim Settlement Act) after the bill was passed in 1971 are contaminated with arsenic, asbestos, lead, mercury, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, and petroleum products.

“Alaska Native communities rely on the lands they received under ANCSA, but unfortunately, far too many continue to deal with harmful contaminants that remain from the federal government. These contaminated lands are nothing short of an environmental injustice — and that’s why I’m so glad to see after years of work, $150 million in additional funding is going to support cleanup on ANCSA lands,” U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in a press release. “This funding will help to fulfill the demands of Alaskans by addressing the issue of contaminated lands and help create new jobs. I encourage all eligible Alaska Tribes and communities to apply for available funding — let’s get to work to end this injustice.”

There are 338 active contamination sites in the state, according to a 2016 report from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Of the 338 locations, 48% are attributed to contamination from Department of Defense activity.

The EPA is taking grant applications for projects that focus on clean up of the contaminated lands, pollution reduction to improve air and water quality, permafrost degradation management and climate emergency management and response.

By:  Staff Report
Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner