N.H. and R.I. Projects Net $275,000 in Grants

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and the Narragansett Bay Commission in Rhode Island have each been awarded a $275,000 grant to support innovative approaches for improving environmental permitting programs, which impose limits on pollution emissions to the air, water, and land.

"This funding, part of EPA's State Innovation Grant program, helps states develop and test leading-edge ideas in environmental protection," said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office, in an Oct. 30 press release.

Both New England grant recipients will test several permitting innovations, including the use of Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and an Environmental Results Program (ERP). Environmental Management Systems allow facilities to continuously improve the management of their environmental performance to achieve superior results and find cost efficiencies through waste elimination. Environmental Results Programs combine compliance assistance from state governments, self-certification of compliance by regulated facilities, and auditing of a statistical sample of self-certifications to ensure compliance.

With the grant, the Narragansett Bay Commission, in partnership with the R.I. Department of Environmental Management and the University of Rhode Island, will apply the programs to create a Sustainable Energy Management System for Rhode Island's wastewater treatment facilities. They will focus on improving energy efficiency and reducing the oil and grease coming in to the facilities from restaurants and food processing operations – with the goal of turning this waste into a renewable fuel source.

The N.H. Department of Environmental Services will test the use of incentives such as early technical assistance and integrated/coordinated permitting to encourage adoption of better development practices – integrating stormwater and other permits for the construction sector with the goal of development that produces fewer air, water, and groundwater impacts and energy and water savings.

EPA is now soliciting grant applications for 2009. This latest competition, which closes Dec.10, also focuses on innovation in environmental permitting programs.

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