WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doubled its commitment on Wednesday to environmental justice projects meant to address health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID–19.
The EPA committed an additional $50 million in American Rescue Plan funds to improve air quality monitoring in communities across the United States. Late last month, the EPA pledged an initial $50 million to such projects.
"Through the American Rescue Plan, Congress and the President entrusted EPA with critical funding to help those who are hurting from pollution and the pandemic," EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in a news release. "We know that in too many communities, air pollution led to worse outcomes from COVID-19. Today, we are partnering with our state, tribal, and local leaders to invest in projects that will improve air quality in communities overburdened by high levels of pollution."
The EPA has earmarked the funds to four plans:
- A grants competition that will seek proposals from community groups and state, Tribal and local government air agencies.
- Direct awards to air agencies for continuous monitoring of small particles (known as PM2.5 or soot) and other Clean Air Act pollutants.
- Enhanced capacity for short-term community monitoring.
- Support to administer the funding.
A flag with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) logo flies at the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images))
The grants competition will launch later this year and take $20 million. Community groups, state, tribal and local air agencies to conduct monitoring of pollutants of greatest concern in communities with health outcome disparities
Another $22.5 million will be allocated as direct awards to state, tribal or local air agencies for enhanced monitoring of PM2.5 and five other air pollutants regulated by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards under the Clean Air Act
The EPA will invest $5 million in agency mobile monitoring labs or air sensor loan programs., improving the agency’s ability to support communities in need of short-term monitoring and air quality information
To ensure the grants and programs are properly administered and tracked, the final $2.5 million will be used in administrative support. It will be used to improve the agency’s data management.
"This funding is a much-needed down payment on getting state and local clean air agencies the resources they need to advance the equitable protection of healthy air for all," said Miles Keogh, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies
This story was reported from Atlanta.