$53 million for 132 local projects nationwide is EPA’s largest ever investment in community air monitoring
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that two community air pollution monitoring projects in Washington by the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency will receive $803,485 in funding to enhance air quality monitoring. The projects are among 132 air monitoring projects in 37 states to receive $53.4 million in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act and the American Rescue Plan, with an emphasis on underserved, historically marginalized, and communities overburdened by pollution.
“With this historic funding, we can make a real difference in helping communities work to improve air quality at the local level, collect air quality information where they see the greatest need, and build partnerships to amplify the health benefits in underserved and overburdened communities across Alaska and the Northwest,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller.
“The climate crisis is here, it’s real, and it’s having real impacts on our communities in Washington state—especially Tribal communities, that too often bear the brunt of climate disasters and experience poor air quality. That’s why I fought hard to pass the Inflation Reduction Act—the biggest ever climate investment in American history. This critical bill not only helps transition our country to a clean energy economy to lower emissions and lower costs—it also ensures that we get resources to communities facing the greatest harm,” said Senator Patty Murray. “I’m proud to deliver these funds from the Inflation Reduction Act to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and Swinomish Indian Tribal Community to help monitor air quality, and ensure that every single community can breathe fresh clean air, and stay healthy.”
“Marginalized communities across the state and our country have been disproportionately impacted by negative air quality, particularly our low-income communities, Indigenous communities, and Black and Brown communities. By disseminating grants throughout the country to enhance air quality monitoring, the Environmental Protection Agency is taking a concerted steps towards ensuring our communities can breathe cleaner air,” said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07). “I am especially grateful that one of the recipients that has been awarded a grant, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, is in my district. Seattle has often ranked as the city with the worst air quality globally, and we must take steps to address and remedy this. I thank EPA Administrator Michael Regan and Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller for their leadership on this critical issue.”
“The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency and the Washington State Department of Ecology play an integral role in keeping our communities safe, and I am gratified to see them receive EPA grants for air monitoring projects,” said Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10). “As our population continues to grow and wildfires become more intense, it will be critical to monitor our region’s air quality closely. These grants will help combat health disparities, enhance real-time communication, and support a healthier South Sound for all communities.”
“Cleaner air is essential for building a healthier, safer and more equitable Puget Sound,” said Congressman Rick Larsen (WA-02). “Thanks to robust federal funding, local and Tribal communities can invest in the tools needed to make informed decisions to protect Washington’s beautiful environment and ensure all Washingtonians can breathe clean air.”
“The Swinomish Tribe thanks the EPA for this grant award that will build our air quality monitoring and emergency response capacities. These funds are important so that we can keep our community healthy by providing rapid guidance and response actions when an air quality emergency occurs,” said Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Chairman Steve Edwards. “The Swinomish Tribe has experienced multiple toxic gas releases in recent years from nearby oil refineries that have had detrimental health effects on our sensitive elders and community members. While we hope to never again experience harmful air quality events, these EPA funds will support the Tribe in building better a monitoring, preparedness and response tool.”
“This exciting opportunity allows us to continue on building a framework for community scientists to learn more about air quality in their communities,” said Puget Sound Clean Air Agency Executive Director Christine Cooley. “Over the timeframe of the grant and through partnerships, we will develop a mobile monitoring platform, which will provide helpful information to overburdened communities in the Puget Sound region.”
EPA will fund the following projects in Washington:
Swinomish Indian Tribal Community: Enhancing Swinomish Air Pollution Monitoring and Community Response to Hazardous Gas Releases – $304,077
Swinomish Indian Tribal Community will use grant funding to improve and upgrade three air monitoring stations to include monitoring of SO2, H2S, and PM2.5. The tribe will partner with Campbell Scientific to develop a more robust Data Acquisition System that collects weather, particulate, and gaseous concentrations. The tribe will also solicit and consider the needs of the public and emergency responders to create a dual-sided website with real-time weather and air quality monitoring data to help everyone make informed decisions on personal and public safety.
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency: Community-directed monitoring with TREE trailer in highly impacted communities – $499,408
In four communities identified as being disproportionately impacted, Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) will deploy an innovative air monitoring approach using a TREE (Trailer for Researching Environmental Equity) equipped with stationary reference instruments at a fixed location based on community input to explore their neighborhood air quality concerns. Branching out from the TREE will be community-led air monitoring activities (walking or biking tours, etc.) that will use portable hand-held sensors which can be cross-referenced to the research-grade instruments in the TREE. PSCAA will leverage and further develop current web-based tools for displaying and communicating the data as close to real-time as possible. Project partner University of Washington will analyze the data to identify dominant sources and health risks. PSCAA will share data and communicate the results regularly to community partners, with the aim of increasing awareness, educating, and helping communities to develop goals and action plans.
See the full list of applications selected for awards nationwide.
The amount of the anticipated grant funding ranges from $57,000 to $500,000, which will enhance air monitoring in communities and establish important partnerships to address air quality concerns. More than half of the selected applications are from community and nonprofit organizations. Tribes are receiving 12 percent of the total funding for this competition. EPA will start the process to award the funding by the end of 2022, once the grant applicants have met all legal and administrative requirements. The grantees will have three years to spend the funds from the time EPA awards the grants.
In addition to the selections for the competitive grants announced today, EPA has awarded nearly $22.5 million from the American Rescue Plan in direct awards to state, tribal, and local air agencies for continuous monitoring of fine particle and other common pollutants. Another $5 million in American Rescue Plan funding is going toward advancing the EPA Regional Offices’ mobile air monitoring capacity and establishing air sensor loan programs. These investments will improve EPA’s ability to support communities that need short-term monitoring and air quality information.
In spring 2021, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan, providing EPA with a one-time supplemental appropriation of $100 million to address health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID-19 pandemic. Half of that $100 million, was dedicated to air quality monitoring. In July 2021, EPA announced the $20 million American Rescue Plan Enhanced Air Quality Monitoring for Communities Grant Competition. The goal of this competition was to improve air quality monitoring in and near underserved communities across the United States, support community efforts to monitor their own air quality, and promote air quality monitoring partnerships between communities and tribal, state, and local governments. EPA received more than 200 applications in response to the competition.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 provides funding to EPA to deploy, integrate, support, and maintain fenceline air monitoring, screening air monitoring, national air toxics trend stations, and other air toxics and community monitoring. Specifically, the IRA provides funding for grants and other activities under section 103 and section 105 of the Clean Air Act. EPA is using approximately $32.3 million of this funding to select 77 high-scoring community monitoring applications.
These grant selections further the goals of President Biden’s Executive Order, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, which formalized the federal commitment to address the disproportionately high and adverse health and environmental impacts on overburdened communities. By enhancing air monitoring and encouraging partnerships with communities, EPA is investing in efforts to better protect people’s health, particularly those in underserved communities.