WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it awarded more than $1 million in "environmental justice" grants to 46 non-profit and tribal organizations.

The EPA defines environmental justice as ensuring equal environmental and health protections for all Americans, regardless of race or socioeconomic status.

Among the recipients were:

-The Clean Air Council of Philadelphia, to develop a neighborhood air quality assessment in the Port Richmond community in Philadelphia;

-Community Services Unlimited, Inc., of South Central Los Angeles, to teach youth about sustainable urban agriculture techniques and engage them in teaching other community youth and adults about the benefits of adopting healthy eating habits, methods used to reduce exposure to toxins, and ways to mitigate climate change;

-Cleveland Tenants Organization, to reduce the misuse of pesticides by tenants and landlords when treating bed bug infestations. The project will educate landlord and tenant populations in Cleveland, Ohio about safer and more effective bed bug control options; and

-The Repertory Dance Theatre of Salt Lake City, to use the arts to help students understand the impacts of air pollution on the environment and their health.

The EPA also announced it is seeking applicants for $1 million in environmental justice small grants expected to be awarded in 2012. The grants enable non-profit organizations to conduct research, provide education, and develop solutions to local health and environmental issues in communities overburdened by harmful pollution.

"Community-based action and participation in environmental decision-making are critical to building healthy and sustainable communities," said Lisa Garcia, EPA's senior advisor to the administrator for environmental justice. "By supporting local environmental justice projects in under-served communities, we are expanding the conversation on environmentalism and advancing environmental justice in communities across the nation."

Since 1994, the environmental justice small grants program has provided more than $23 million in funding to community-based nonprofit organizations and local governments working to address environmental justice issues in more than 1,200 communities.

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