Largest investment for community air monitoring in EPA history funded by President Biden’s Climate and Economic Plans
BOSTON (November 3, 2022) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) to receive a $500,000 grant to conduct community air quality monitoring in Providence, Rhode Island. The grant is one of 132 air monitoring projects in 37 states will receive $53.4 million from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and American Rescue Plan to enhance air quality monitoring in communities across the United States. The projects are focused on communities that are underserved, historically marginalized, and overburdened by pollution, supporting President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative.
“I’ve traveled across the country and visited communities who’ve suffered from unhealthy, polluted air for far too long. I pledged to change that by prioritizing underserved communities and ensuring they have the resources they need to confront longstanding pollution challenges,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The air monitoring projects we are announcing today, which include the first EPA grants funded by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, will ensure dozens of overburdened communities have the tools they need to better understand air quality challenges in their neighborhoods and will help protect people from the dangers posed by air pollution.”
“With these new air quality monitoring grants, EPA is delivering significant funding in Rhode Island to improve air quality monitoring in and near underserved communities, support community efforts to monitor their own air quality, and promote air quality partnerships between communities and tribal, state, and local governments,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. “Thanks to the Biden Administration, this work will make a real difference leading to cleaner and healthier air for Providence residents.”
The EPA funding will assist RIDOH establish and maintain a program to monitor indoor and outdoor air quality for communities affected by asthma in Providence. The project will focus on Providence communities historically overburdened by pollution, including three “Health Equity Zones” (HEZs) in the city (Central Providence, South Providence, and West Elmwood HEZs) as well as 3 public housing family developments.
The air pollution monitoring projects are made possible by more than $30 million in Inflation Reduction Act funds, which supplemented $20 million from the American Rescue Plan and enabled EPA to support 77 additional projects, more than twice the number of projects initially proposed by community-based nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, and Tribal governments.
These grant selections further the goals of President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative and Executive Order, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, which directed that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments flow to overburdened communities that face disproportionately high and adverse health and environmental impacts. 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.
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. Grantees will have three years to spend the funds from the time EPA awards the grants.
See the full list of applications selected for award.
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. EPA Regions began awarding nearly $22.5 million from this appropriation in 2022 as direct awards to state, tribal, and local air agencies for continuous monitoring of fine particle and other common pollutants. In addition, EPA Regions are in the process of procuring monitoring equipment using $5 million in American Rescue Plan funding to advance the EPA Regional Offices’ mobile air monitoring capacity and establish air sensor loan programs. . These investments will improve EPA’s ability to support communities that need short-term monitoring and air quality information.
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 Inflation Reduction Act 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.
What They Are Saying
“Rhode Island has one of the highest asthma rates in the country,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “Our American Rescue Plan and Inflation Reduction Act increased the funding available for air monitoring systems to protect the public from bad air days. This is an investment in communities that have unfairly borne the brunt of pollution for far too long.”
“Prolonged exposure to poor air quality can lead to the development of asthma or worsen symptoms for those already suffering from this all-too-common condition,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “By investing in proactive air quality monitoring, we can ensure that all Rhode Islanders have access to clean air, as well as decrease the rates of asthma within our communities. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act and the American Rescue Plan, RIDOH will have the resources needed to advance these critical goals.”
“Clean air is an absolutely necessity for our communities – especially to keep our kids, our seniors, and those with medical conditions safe and healthy,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “In line with the President’s pledge to ensure greater environmental justice, I was proud to join with my colleagues in Congress in delivering these funds to enhance air quality monitoring in Rhode Island communities that need it most and have been traditionally underserved and marginalized.”