Is Your State Eligible For A Climate Pollution Reduction Grant?

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The Environmental Protection Agency will begin distributing grant funding allocated by the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA) Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) program, starting with $250 million to develop strategies to cut climate pollution. The pot of climate gold holds a total of $5 billion to engage in planning and implementation.

CPRG grant funds are restricted to projects that are directly related to the development, updating, or evaluation of state, local, tribal or territorial plans to reduce climate pollution (i.e., to reduce greenhouse gas emissions [GHG] and/or enhance carbon sinks).

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Climate pollution has been in the news recently.

  • Nearly everyone — 99% of the global population — is exposed to unhealthy levels of tiny and harmful air pollutants, known as PM 2.5, according a new study in Lancet Planet Health.
  • More than 1,000 “super-emitter” sites gushed the potent GHG methane into the global atmosphere in 2022, the Guardian revealed, mostly from oil and gas facilities.
  • Dozens of Democratic lawmakers are stepping up pressure on SEC Chair Gary Gensler to push ahead with a landmark climate risk disclosure rule that’s facing fierce opposition from Wall Street to Washington.
  • Research led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has confirmed that coastal water pollution transfers to the atmosphere in sea spray aerosol, which can reach people beyond just beachgoers, surfers, and swimmers.
  • If anthropogenic sources were to be reduced to preindustrial levels (“pristine” air quality), many parts of the world—up to 4.5 billion people—would still be exposed to poor air quality due to increased fine particulate matter concentrations and degraded air quality, according to a study in Nature.

GHG emissions come from various sources of pollution like cars, industry, buildings, and power plants that burn fossil fuels such as oil, coal, natural gas, and gasoline. These emissions drive global warming, which harms people, wildlife, and our environment and results in climate change. The blanket of pollution that traps heat around the earth enters the atmosphere, spreads across the globe, and traps heat around the earth for 50-200 years after it is emitted.

Despite ongoing efforts by UN agencies, committed groups, committed individuals, and some high income countries, little real progress against pollution can be identified overall, particularly in the low-income and middle-income countries, where pollution is most severe. Our children and their children will experience the consequences of this pollution. Currently, the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are at their highest levels in hundreds of thousands of years.

Reducing them is key to limiting climate change. Action on all major modern pollutants is needed. Efforts can synergize with other environmental policy programs, especially as a large scale. A rapid transition away from all fossil fuels to clean renewable energy is an effective strategy for preventing pollution while also slowing down climate change.

According to Lancet Planetary Health, these steps would achieve a double benefit for planetary health. Indeed, the Lancet argues that “the triad of pollution, climate change, and biodiversity loss are the key global environmental issues of our time. These issues are intricately linked, and solutions to each will benefit the others.”

What is the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants Program?

The Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) program will provide grants to states, local governments, tribes, and Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia to develop and implement plans for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other harmful air pollution. The CPRG program will also make a further $1 million available to the nation’s 67 most populous metropolitan areas.

Section 60114 of the Inflation Reduction Act provides an investment of $5 billion to support efforts by states, municipalities, air pollution control agencies, tribes, and groups to develop and implement strong, local GHG reduction strategies.

This two-staged grant program provides funding of $250 million for noncompetitive planning grants, and $4.6 billion for competitive implementation grants. For Phase I Planning Grants, CPRG sets aside $3 million for each state, including DC and PR ($156 million overall). In addition, $1 million is set aside for each of the 67 largest metropolitan areas in the US according to 2020 census data ($67 million overall), and $25 million for Tribes. The remaining $2 million is reserved for territories.

The CPRG program is designed to provide flexible support to states, local governments, tribes, and territories regardless of where they are in their climate planning and implementation process. Planning funds can be used to update existing climate, energy, or sustainability plans, or to develop new plans. Investment-ready policies, programs, and projects to reduce climate pollution in the near term will be augmented by development and deployment of technologies and solutions that will reduce GHGs and harmful air pollution, as well as transition the US to a clean energy economy that benefits all Americans.

EPA provides multiple resources that can be used to help develop GHG emissions inventories at the state, tribal and municipal level. Many of these datasets and tools provide criteria and hazardous air pollution emissions estimates as well. Some states have already used these tools in developing existing climate action plans. Resources include existing EPA GHG inventories that have already been compiled as well as EPA tools that can be used to develop GHG inventories for one or more specific sectors.

EPA compiles and publishes annual state-by-state GHG data consistent with the national Inventory and international reporting guidelines, meaning state GHG totals when summed, will equal totals in the national Inventory.

The agency has set a March 31 deadline for notices of intent to participate at the state level, with an April 28 deadline for the 67 most populous areas. Tribes and territories will have until June 15. The grants will likely be awarded by summer of 2023.

The administration will make another $4.6 million available later in 2023 in competitive grant funding for implementation of plans. The initial $250 million is noncompetitive.

Environmental Justice = Important Component of IRA

In August, 2022 the White House released an overview of potential results of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). For far too long, communities across our country have faced environmental injustices, bearing the brunt of toxic pollution, the review outlined, “enduring underinvestment in infrastructure and critical services, and suffering disproportionate impacts from climate change.”

The IRA expands support for both the production and deployment of clean energy technologies. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it will inject $374 billion into the clean technology sector over the next decade.

The Inflation Reduction Act includes historic investments in environmental justice, including establishing several new grant programs. The law will improve public health, reduce pollution, and revitalize communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution while increase access to affordable and accessible clean energy.

The announcement comes the week after the agency also revealed $550 million in funds to address environmental inequity through local nonprofits, following an initial round of $100 million.

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Substack:

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