Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced four community air pollution monitoring projects in Alaska will receive $1,357,563 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.
“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 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.
“We are excited for this opportunity to expand air quality monitoring capacity on our Tribal lands and hope that this can help to identify pollution sources and aid in alleviating health risks to our Tribal citizens, community residents, and visitors,” said Skagway Traditional Council Environmental Coordinator Reuben Cash. “Additionally, we look forward to a collaborative effort with our project partners to design, implement, and gauge the effectiveness of pollution mitigation strategies.”
“The Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association (APIA) is excited to be able to partner with the Aleut Community of St. Paul Island and the EPA, to establish baseline data and the impacts of solid waste burning on St. Paul Island; thereby, addressing local health concerns,” said Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association President and CEO Dimitri Philemonof.
EPA will fund the following projects in Alaska:
Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association: Air quality monitoring for solid waste burning impact – $301,987
This project will collect baseline ambient air quality data and determine the impacts of solid waste burning on the remote island Aleut Community of St. Paul Island. Monitors will measure particulate matter, Nitrogen Oxide, and Sulfur Dioxide, and particulate matter precursors Volatile Organic Compounds and Carbon Monoxide, aimed at addressing community health concerns.
Skagway Village (Skagway Traditional Council): Skagway Air Quality Monitoring Network – $397,169
Skagway Traditional Council, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, and the Municipality of Skagway will combine air quality monitoring efforts and equipment into a single array, modeled after a similar sensor array deployed at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Currently owned equipment will receive upgrades necessary to operate efficiently within the array. A publicly available digital dashboard will be created and maintained to inform the community about air quality events in real-time.
Chilkoot Indian Association: Evaluating Outdoor-Indoor Air Quality Exposures in Haines Borough, Creating a Northern Lynn Canal Intertribal Air Quality Working Group – $158,408
Establish baseline continuous outdoor ambient air quality (PM2.5) monitoring in the Haines Borough, tracking expected pollution sources of large cruise ships exhaust, wildfire smoke, construction/quarrying dust, and community diesel generator exhaust. The project will also conduct indoor air quality assessments for tribal members’ households and local schools and take intermittent measurements on a variety of pollutants (PM2.5, CO, VOCs) in these indoor settings. Program staff will attend both introductory and advanced training on rural Alaska air quality topics. Findings of the monitoring efforts will be shared through a new Northern Lynn Canal Intertribal Air Quality Working Group and project partners, and the working group will explore appropriate response actions to suboptimal air quality.
Alaska DEC: Expansion and Maintenance of the Alaskan Community Low-Cost Air Sensor Network – $499,999
The three-year project will expand the existing air quality sensor network to Dillingham, Eagle, Fort Yukon, Galena, Haines, McGrath, and Wrangell, using AQMesh sensor pods and to provide baseline air quality data for areas not covered by the state’s regulatory monitoring network . Alaska DEC will purchase and install eight additional sensor pods (seven for community installation and one audit pod), maintain the entire AQMesh sensor pod network in 33 communities and provide outreach, education, and assistance to the communities with sensors.
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.