USACE Omaha District champions the Justice40 Initiative

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District
Published Feb. 26, 2024

OMAHA, Neb. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Omaha District has assembled a team from multiple divisions that will lead the district’s first Environmental Justice Strategic Plan in line with the Justice40 Initiative.

The Justice40 Initiative was established to ensure federal agencies work to deliver at least 40% of climate and clean energy benefits from federal investments to disadvantaged communities.

Economically disadvantaged communities make up over 45% of the Omaha District area of responsibility, including 26 federally recognized Tribes. Many of these communities are unaware of the financial assistance programs they qualify for; an issue that the Omaha District is working to rectify.

“The Justice40 Initiative has given Omaha District the opportunity to focus on the unmet needs of economically disadvantaged communities across the Missouri River Basin who have historically faced challenges that obstruct meaningful partnership with USACE,” said Allison Greathouse, an outreach specialist within the Omaha District planning branch.

Partnerships with EJ communities have been prioritized to include proactive scheduling and participation in staff-to-staff and government-to-government meetings with Tribal Nations. For example, Tribal Nations were successfully integrated into the annual spring emergency management meetings.

Additionally, the Omaha District is making efforts to advocate for EJ communities through interagency collaborations with other federal partners. This includes roundtable discussions for emergency planning, available project funding and other opportunities.

“These annual roundtable meetings are key opportunities to share information with other agencies,” said Omaha District Plan Formulation and Project Management Section Chief Greg Johnson.

One source of funding available is through the Continuing Authorities Program, Section 165(a) Pilot Program. This USACE headquarters program will choose 10 new-start projects to be 100% funded for economically disadvantaged communities in FY24. The Omaha District assisted 75 communities, resulting in 15 completed CAP Pilot Program applications in FY23.

Local technical competency and capacity within EJ communities is also being built up through the increasing availability of work-in-kind opportunities. Work-in-kind allows communities to include locally sourced labor as a part of their portion of the program cost-share. This decreases the monetary cost-sharing contributions required from those communities.

Other EJ programs include drought resiliency improvement along the Missouri River and the Silver Jackets program, developed after Hurricane Katrina to facilitate better interagency coordination for flood risk management.

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