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Montana State University will receive a $10 million grant to serve as an environmental justice resource center for six states and 28 Tribal nations, according to a news release from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

MSU was among 17 institutions to receive the funding, and EPA leaders say the grant is meant to bolster rural communities' environmental justice efforts. The university will also serve as a resource for people interested in environmental justice and policy. 

The funding will provide technical assistance, training, and resources to underserved rural and tribal communities throughout the EPA Region 8, which includes Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, and 28 Tribal nations that call these states home. 

“Together, EPA and MSU will help break down the barriers to resources that underserved and overburdened communities have always faced,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker, in a news release. “These communities deserve support and fair access to the historic levels of funding EPA offers to protect families’ health and homes.” 

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Julia Haggerty, associate professor in MSU’s Department of Earth Sciences in the College of Letters and Science will serve as acting manager of the new program at MSU, which will aim to start operating this spring. 

Haggerty has spent her career working with communities and tribal nations to identify strategies to enhance resilience and well-being as energy and natural resource markets and policies shift. 

“What excites me as a faculty member is that this creates an incredible opportunity to elevate our game when it comes to identifying service-learning opportunities for students as we support program participants,” Haggerty said in a news release from Montana State University. “Many students and faculty care deeply about doing work to improve well-being in the region. There will be tremendous opportunities for students to learn from and participate in these efforts.”

According to an agency press release, the EPA selected MSU based on its ability to provide technical assistance to energy and environmental justice. MSU is one of 13 regional centers being established by the EPA under President Biden’s historic Investing in America agenda. 

The EPA-funded centers will provide training and other assistance to program participants in such areas as navigating federal grant application systems, developing strong grant proposals and effectively managing funding. 

The centers will also help identify funding opportunities and support community engagement, meeting facilitation, and translation and interpretation services. An additional focus of the program is accessing experts for consultation on technical and policy issues.

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