EPA Opens a $20 Million Grant Competition for Community Air Pollution Monitoring

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EPA Opens a $20 Million Grant Competition for Community Air Pollution Monitoring

The EPA announced $20 million in competitive grants through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to increase air quality monitoring across the U.S., especially in communities that lack access to adequate air quality. EPA will award funds to support community and local efforts to monitor air quality and to promote air quality monitoring partnerships between communities and Tribal, state and local governments. These will be able to apply for grants, according to a press release.

“In my travel across the country, from Newark to Flint to the deep south, community members have told me how important air quality monitoring is to protecting their health. Through the American Rescue Plan, Congress and the President entrusted EPA with critical funding to help those who are hurting,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “This funding will support communities that need better information about air quality in their neighborhoods and reflects EPA’s commitment to deliver environmental justice for our most vulnerable populations.”

The announcement follows Administrator Regan’s Journey to Justice Tour through Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, where he met with residents and advocates to hear firsthand how their communities have been affected by air pollution and why improved air monitoring can help residents.

Under the ARP, Congress provided EPA with a one-time supplemental appropriation of $100 million to address health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID-19 pandemic. Of that $100 million, $50 million has been dedicated to environmental justice (EJ) initiatives that identify and address disproportionate environmental or public health harms in underserved communities, and $50 million is dedicated to address air monitoring for the same issues.

The announcement of the availability of $20 million for community monitoring is part of that $50 million for monitoring. This is the largest investment in community-based monitoring systems in EPA history. The remaining $30 million will support state, Tribal or local air agencies for enhanced monitoring of fine particles and five other air pollutants regulated by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards under the Clean Air Act, cover administrative costs and invest in mobile monitoring labs or air sensor loan programs to improve EPA's ability to support communities in need of short-term monitoring and air quality information.

To be considered for funding under this Request for Applications (RFA), grant applications must address ambient monitoring for at least one of the following types of air pollution: criteria pollutants (particle pollution, carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone or sulfur dioxide) and their precursors or hazardous air pollutants, as defined by the Clean Air Act.

The grants do not require matching funds from organizations that apply. The grants will be focused on collecting information that addresses air pollution problems identified by communities and effective partnerships. This EPA grant competition to enhance ambient air monitoring in communities with health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID-19 pandemic exemplifies the Biden Administration’s Justice40 commitment to charting a new and better course that puts environmental and economic justice at the center of all we do.

Through this grants program, EPA anticipates awarding a total of 50-70 grants or cooperative agreements. Approximately $2 million of the total amount will be awarded to Tribal governments under a Tribal government set-aside and approximately $2 million will be awarded to eligible community-based organizations under a community-based organization set-aside. EPA may increase or decrease the total funding or set-aside amounts based on the quality of applications received and agency priorities. For more information about the application process click here.

About the Author

Shereen Hashem is the Associate Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety Magazine.

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