That’s Reperatory — not Respiratory — Dance Theater, EPA. Sheesh.
Rep. Rob Bishop is a fan of the Repertory Dance Theater in downtown Salt Lake City, and the Utah Republican has attended many of the group’s performances over the years. But he can’t applaud a decision this week by U.S. EPA to give the group $25,000 to help produce an artistic program designed to teach school children about the dangers of air pollution.
“At a time when we are severely cutting back our military and when we are talking about cutting back unemployment insurance … this is not the kind of thing that should be done by the federal government,” Bishop said this morning. “This is an example of why our budget is out of control [and] where people are critical of what we’re doing.”
In the same week that Congress fiercely debates an omnibus appropriations package for the remaining months of the fiscal year, EPA announced this year’s recipients of its annual Environmental Justice Small Grant Program. The agency has awarded more than $1 million in total grant funding to 46 nonprofit and tribal organizations that are working on ways to address the disproportional impact that pollution can have on low-income and minority communities.
Since the program was first instituted in 1994, EPA has provided about $23 million in total environmental justice small grants to nearly 1,300 individual projects.
Some of this year’s grants were made to restore wetlands near urban areas or help weatherize homes in low-income neighborhoods. Many of the grants are for educational initiatives such as an effort in southern New Jersey to train migrant farm workers about the risks of pesticides.
But the Repertory Dance Theater initiative stands out as perhaps the most unusual, and could well be the most controversial, award this year…
Below is the grant description:
Recipient: Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT)
Project Name: Clean Air: an arts/environmental education project for west side schools in Salt Lake City Project Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Issue: Clean Air Act
The Repertory Dance Theater uses the arts to educate Salt Lake City youth about impacts of air pollution. Repertory Dance Theatre plans to conduct ten Arts/Environmental Residency Programs in K-6 schools in the west and central areas of Salt Lake City and to use the arts to help students understand the impacts of air pollution on the environment their health. The project intends to produce innovative lectures, demonstrations and movement classes in 10 elementary schools. Kinesthetic learning will be used to examine air quality issues and encourage youth and their families to adopt healthy living practices. Participants will be guided through fun problem solving activities focusing on understanding the need for clean air and preventative methods to decrease pollution at home.