Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced community air pollution monitoring projects lead by the Hispanic Access Foundation in Idaho and other states will receive $499,922 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.
"For more than a decade, Hispanic Access has catapulted our trust-based community networks into action by providing access, capacity, and the belief to create beneficial changes in their communities,” said Hispanic Access Foundation President/CEO Maite Arce. “From advocating for environmental justice to protecting waters and public lands, we've supported community leaders as they decide what is best for themselves, we design solutions together, and advocate for change. We are thrilled to receive the support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to equip our community networks in raising awareness of air pollutants affecting their local communities and addressing air quality issues locally."
EPA will be funding the following project:
Hispanic Access Foundation: El Aire Que Respiramos (the Air We Breathe): Latino Citizen Science Project -$499,922
The Air We Breathe will measure PM2.5 concentrations at 12 heavily populated Latino sites in Caldwell, Idaho (and communities in Illinois, Texas, California, and Nevada). The project will raise awareness and improve understanding of PM2.5 pollution in the communities and will empower these same communities to make adjustments in their daily lives and to advocate for change as needed.
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.