Largest investment for community air monitoring in EPA history funded by President Biden’s Climate and Economic Plans
November 3, 2022
NEW YORK – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has selected the Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth and the City of Jersey City to receive funding to conduct community air quality monitoring for their residents. These grants are two of 132 air monitoring projects in 37 states that will receive $53.4 million from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and American Rescue Plan to enhance air quality monitoring in communities across the United States. The projects are focused on communities that are underserved, historically marginalized, and overburdened by pollution, supporting President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative.
In addition, EPA is announcing direct awards to state, local, and tribal governments for air monitoring under ARP totaling $22.5 million. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection received $234,000 to fund enhanced continuous monitoring of PM2.5 and replace aging monitoring equipment for five other air pollutants regulated by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards under the Clean Air Act.
“Clean air is a vital resource and a right all communities deserve. This $1 million investment will allow the City of Elizabeth and Jersey City to set up local air monitoring networks and raise community knowledge of air quality and its impacts,” said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized direct community participation in information gathering to help reduce harmful air pollution, and today’s announcement helps do just that.”
“All Americans should be able to breathe clean, safe air, no matter where they live,” said Senator Cory Booker. “This federal funding to enhance air quality monitoring will improve the health and well-being of New Jerseyans, particularly those from vulnerable communities, who are disproportionately affected by air pollution.”
($465,250) Jersey City will work in its Greenville and Lafayette neighborhoods to monitor for ozone and particulate matter. The city government will analyze air quality data against health-based air quality standards and share the data with the public to educate them on exposure, health consequences and personal and community actions to reduce exposure. Many organizations will be actively engaged in developing policy and programmatic solutions to address adverse air quality and its impacts on health in Jersey City’s underserved communities.
“With today’s announcement, the Biden EPA is safeguarding Americans’ right to clean air by strengthening air monitoring across the country and providing communities the localized information they need to protect public health,” said Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. “These projects are especially crucial for environmental justice communities in New Jersey, which continue to bear the brunt of air pollution and its adverse health effects. I’m thrilled the funding we included in the American Rescue Plan and Inflation Reduction Act is providing these communities with the resources they both need and deserve, and I commend EPA for being a steadfast partner in our fight to ensure these communities in our state will never again be left behind.”
($500,000) The Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth will engage residents to increase community knowledge of air pollution and provide actionable data. The project will produce air quality readings from 13 locations utilizing a network of air quality sensors. Air quality data will enable the City of Elizabeth to take action and make resources available to increase environmental health and wellness in the city.
“The Murphy Administration is grateful to our partners at EPA, who share our commitment to protecting our air quality and championing environmental justice,” said New Jersey Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. “Development of effective programs to protect our air and reduce climate pollutants depends on strong data. These community air pollution monitoring grants will fund projects that will improve that data collection and help us take steps to better protect public health and the environment. This is of particular importance in underserved communities such as Jersey City and Elizabeth that have for too long been overburdened by air pollution.”
The air pollution monitoring projects are made possible by more than $30 million in Inflation Reduction Act funds, which supplemented $20 million from the American Rescue Plan and enabled EPA to support 77 additional projects, more than twice the number of projects initially proposed by community-based nonprofit organizations, state and local governments, and Tribal governments.
These grant selections further the goals of President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative and Executive Order, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, which directed that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments flow to overburdened communities that face disproportionately high and adverse health and environmental impacts. 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.
EPA will start the process of awarding the funding by the end of 2022, once the grant applicants have met all legal and administrative requirements. Grantees will have three years to spend the funds from the time EPA awards the grants.
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. EPA Regions began awarding nearly $22.5 million from this appropriation in 2022 as direct awards to state, tribal, and local air agencies for continuous monitoring of fine particles and other common pollutants. In addition, EPA Regions are in the process of procuring monitoring equipment using $5 million in American Rescue Plan funding to advance the EPA Regional Offices’ mobile air monitoring capacity and establish air sensor loan programs. These investments will improve EPA’s ability to support communities that need short-term monitoring and air quality information.
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 Inflation Reduction Act 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.