At the same time it announced the grants -- more than a million dollars in total -- the EPA said it is now seeking applicants for another million dollars to be awarded in 2012.
While a million dollars is a relative drop in the bucket of federal largesse, it does add up: The EPA says since 1994, the environmental justice small-grants program has provided more than $23 million in funding to nonprofit community groups and local governments in more than 1,200 communities.
The EPA defines environmental justice as "the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people, regardless of race or income, in the environmental decision-making process."
The 2011 grants support projects such as protecting children in the Boston-area from lead poisoning and asthma; conducting research on air quality in a portside Philadelphia community; and helping the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota repair failing septic systems and identify water that is unsafe to drink.
An organization in Southern New Jersey is getting money to "educate and train" migrant farm workers from Mexico and Guatemala about "the risks of pesticide exposure."
"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," said Lisa Garcia, the EPA's senior advisor for environmental justice.