EPA Awards $75,000 Environmental Justice Grant to KBIC

CHICAGO, Ill. — Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it has awarded $75,000 to the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community under the Environmental Justice Small Grants program. The funding will provide support to identify legacy and current environmental pollutants in the community, conduct an environmental risk assessment and develop materials to distribute project findings. 

“EPA’s Environmental Justice Small Grants program helps tribal nations to better understand possible health risks from environmental contamination,” said EPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore. “This funding supports these communities in taking action to ensure that people are protected from environmental risks and potential health hazards.

“This EPA EJ funding opportunity will assist KBIC with the completion of a health risk assessment focusing on environmental contaminants,” said KBIC President Kim Klopstein. “This study will analyze the impacts of risk values set for the general population that are not reflective of our tribal lifeways and those members who rely on the environment to hunt, fish, and gather.”

Environmental pollution that harms water quality can pose higher risks to tribal nations like the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, who harvest significant amounts of native fish species to feed their families, as well as to use during ceremonies and other cultural practices. The area around the KBIC L’Anse reservation is subject to multiple stressors from current industrial facilities, such as a mixed-fuel power plant, and historical legacy pollutants. Legacy pollution from past copper mining operations have left contaminated byproducts that include heavy metals such as mercury, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, phthalates, coal tars, nitrates, and ammonia compounds.

The EJSG project will help build capacity to understand these impacts and educate community members on possible exposures and risks from pollution. The information generated during the project could help develop future community guidelines, recommendations, research studies, and program planning.


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