EPA Awards Portland State University $649,492 to Study Environmental Justice Impacts of Renewable Energy Storage Infrastructure

The project, set to last until 2027, will examine how renewable energy projects impact tribal and historically underserved communities.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded Portland State University $649,492 to further understanding about the environmental justice impacts of renewable energy storage infrastructure. PSU was one of 11 institutions nationwide receiving a total of $11 million in grant funding to address the drivers and environmental impacts of energy transitions in underserved and tribal communities. 

The funded project,  which includes facilitating researchers from San Jose State University, University of Nevada–Reno and California State Polytechnic University–Pomona will use a qualitative, case-study-based, community-engaged approach in order to “examine critical nodes along the renewable energy life cycle.”

The announcement follows a $10 million grant in April given to Portland State University and a group of regional partners to establish one of two Northwestern Environmental and Energy Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers, or TCTAC, (pronounced “TicTac”) to fund environmental justice research among Native American tribes and their neighbors across the Northwest. 

The expected outputs of the research project include a policy-facing report of recommendations for just and sustainable renewable energy storage, produced through engagement with community members; presentations for academic conferences, public agencies, and non-governmental organizations; peer-reviewed research journal publications; a series of entries for the Environmental Justice Atlas and other community-engaged research products to be developed in collaboration with stakeholders and project advisory board members; and community-engaged workshops to build working relationships that will continue beyond the life of the project.  

“As our energy systems rapidly shift toward renewables, it is critical that we better understand the environmental justice implications of this transition,” EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller said in a press release from the agency. “Portland State University’s community-engaged research will help fill this knowledge gap and ensure that decision making regarding the energy transition is more attentive to environmental justice and community concerns.”