The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of the Alaska Forum and Zender Environmental Health and Research Group in Alaska to receive $1 million in funding for environmental employment training initiatives backed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The grants are among 29 awarded nationwide through the EPA's Brownfields Job Training Program (BJTP), the agency stated in its announcement of the award. BJTP grants fund recruitment, training and placement of workers in community revitalization and cleanup projects at brownfield sites, according to the announcement.
“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is supercharging EPA’s Brownfields Program, which is transforming blighted sites, protecting public health, and creating economic opportunities in more overburdened communities than ever before,” EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe said in the announcement.
“The investments announced today will not only support the cleanup of some of our nation’s most polluted areas," McCabe said, "but they will also equip a new generation of workers to take on the significant environmental challenges that plague overburdened neighborhoods, and jump-start sustainable, long-term careers in the communities that need these jobs the most.”
The Alaska Forum will use $500,000 in funding to train 100 students and place that number in environmental jobs, according to the announcemet. The training program features 60 hours of instruction in Hazardous Waste and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER), Community Emergency Response Team training, fire safety and training to earn a potential total of five federal certifications, the announcement states.
“The Alaska Forum is extremely excited to expand our job training opportunities to include emergency and disaster response skills that may have real impacts in communities in times of emergency need,” Kurt Eilo, the forum's executive director, said in the announcement. “This is a substantial new effort to help build community capacity to address local emergency response needs. We look forward to working with EPA and our partners including Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to make this happen.”
Zender Environmental Health and Research Group plans to train 68 students from rural Alaskan and Tribal communities and place approximately 56 of them in environmental jobs. The Rural Alaska Community Environmental Job Training (RACEJT) program features over 200 hours of instruction in HAZWOPER, water and soil sampling, Rural Alaska Landfill Operator (RALO), wildfire protection, and spill and emergency response, with up to four state and 12 federal certifications available, the statement reports.
“RACEJT changes lives. And once they are hired, our graduates are able to apply their new skills and knowledge to identifying and addressing the unique environmental health challenges their communities face,” Lynn Zender, Zender's executive director. “With this funding, we are able to train and place more graduates in more rural Alaska communities. We are so grateful to EPA for believing in this program and even more, in believing in our incredible graduates.”
EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller congratulated the two organizations on being selected to receive the grants.
“EPA is excited to support their efforts to equip the next generation of environmental stewards with in-demand skills for high-paying, long-term jobs that help make their communities safer, cleaner, and healthier places to live and work,” Sixkiller said in the announcement.