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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan testifies on the EPA fiscal year 2022 budget request. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday it will provide $50 million to help low-income and communities of color impacted by pollution, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: This move represents the Biden administration’s first major investment in environmental justice — a key element of his climate policy. The issue was largely dismissed by the Trump administration.

  • Americans of color are disproportionally affected by fine particulate air pollution, a recent study found.

The big picture: $100 million was carved out of the COVID aid package signed into law in March for the EPA to tackle environmental justice projects. Friday’s announcement established how the first half of the funding will be spent.

  • $16.6 million will go to grants to help cities, states, tribes and territories to fund education on pollution’s impacts on the environment and public health.
  • $7 million are carved out for the Diesel Emissions Act rebate program to address environmental justice issues for reducing diesel pollution.
  • $5 million will be used to expand civil and criminal enforcement to include monitoring low-income communities and drinking water sources for pollution.

What they're saying: EPA Administrator Michael Regan said that $200,000 will go toward a mentoring program in Baltimore that prepares diverse youth to be employed in full-time jobs in water management.

  • "EPA is drawing on its many years of experience working with communities and organizations that strive for environmental justice to ensure these funds will deliver real-world results for those who need it most," Regan said.

What's next: The agency intends to share details on how the next $50 million will be deployed later this summer.

Go deeper: The racial gap in pollution exposure.

Go deeper

Study: Today's children will experience 36 times more heat waves than grandparents

People participating in a climate change strike in New York City on Sept. 24. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Children today will likely live through more weather and climate disasters than their grandparents if the planet continues to warm at its current pace, a study published in the journal Science this week estimates.

Why it matters: The study quantifies what is already widely known: extreme weather and climate events will become more common and severe as the planet warms primarily from human influences, like increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell (left) during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.