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 six New York applicants and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, to receive funding to conduct community air quality monitoring. The grants are seven 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 York State Department of Environmental Conservation received $590,000 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 $3.4 million investment will provide communities big and small throughout New York State with access to local air monitoring networks, which will 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.”
“We need to ensure better air quality in our neighborhoods especially those with a mix of industrial areas and environmental justice communities like Red Hook, which has seen a spike in e-commerce facilities and truck congestion, in addition to the pollutants coming from the Gowanus Expressway and Hugh Carey Tunnel,” said Representative Nydia Velázquez. “Thanks to the funds coming from the American Rescue Plan and the Inflation Reduction Act, the Red Hook community and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will have the ability to better monitor air quality and help improve the health of our City’s neighborhoods.”
“Air pollution has a significant impact on health outcomes, especially in marginalized communities. This is particularly evident in Western New York given our community’s industrial past,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “Thanks to funding from the Inflation Reduction Act and the American Rescue Plan, the University at Buffalo will be able to deploy low-cost technology to monitor air quality and develop ways to improve health and wellness among the most vulnerable members of our community. It is an investment that builds on progress that we have already made to reduce pollution and create a more sustainable future for all Western New Yorkers.”
Representative Paul Tonko said, “More than 40 percent of Americans live in areas with unhealthy air quality, with minority and low-income communities facing a disproportionate amount of pollution. In August 2021, I invited EPA Administrator Regan to visit some of the communities in the Capital Region struggling with air pollution that will benefit directly from these awards. These investments will strengthen community-led initiatives and have a lasting positive impact. I was proud to address this environmental injustice and strengthen public health by investing boldly in air monitoring improvements in both our Inflation Reduction Act and American Rescue Plan. And I thank the Administrator and EPA for following up on the visit to our region by delivering this critical funding.”
Residents of the South Bronx have long been exposed to elevated levels of air pollution that gravely impact all aspects of our health: physical, mental, and emotional. Without investment in environmental justice, our communities will continue to be left behind and their health will suffer the consequences. I am encouraged by the EPA’s focus on improving air quality for those who need it most by supporting community-based organizations doing the hard work. The impact the funds from the Inflation Reduction Act will have on public health in the Bronx is another step forward in furthering our mission of cleaner and greener borough,” said Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15).
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “I applaud the Biden-Harris Administration, EPA Administrator Regan, and Regional Administrator Garcia for their continued commitment to ensuring all communities across the nation, particularly those communities most vulnerable to sources of air pollution, are being monitored and protected for clean air. This significant funding will provide more than $4 million to efforts in New York State, including nearly $600,000 to DEC, to further enhance the aggressive steps Governor Kathy Hochul and DEC are taking toward new and innovative projects to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. We congratulate all the awardees and look forward to working together to build upon New York’s statewide air monitoring initiatives, develop strategies to improve air quality and cut climate-altering emissions, and support New York’s ambitious climate targets for a safer and healthier environment for all.”
($381,729) The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe will deploy a low-cost air quality monitoring network in Akwesasne to address gaps in air pollution monitoring for sources of concern to the community. The recipient will work closely with the community to identify sampling locations and use a real-time data dashboard and in townhall sessions to disseminate the monitoring results to the community.
($500,000) Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice Inc., a not-for-profit organization, will partner with multiple organizations to collect air quality data in the vicinity of the Cross Bronx Expressway. This data, along with advocacy and environmental justice training, community meetings, and events, will support the Expressway’s redevelopment to benefit the South Bronx community. Project activities will occur in the Bronx, New York City, specifically along the Cross Bronx Expressway. This includes the neighborhoods of Parkchester/Castle Hill, Jerome/Washington Heights, Hunts Point, West Bronx, and Bronx River/Soundview.
($499,963) The Research Foundation of The State University of New York, Amherst, will deploy low-cost air pollution sensors at sampling sites in the residence of the underserved African American community in Buffalo and develop a community-specific air quality prediction model by integrating the collected sensor measurements with existing data. Data will be helpful for vulnerable populations in the community.
($500,000) The Red Hook Initiative, a Brooklyn not-for-profit organization, will increase the capacity of the Red Hook community to measure, document, and interpret air quality issues. It will expand air monitoring through neighborhood-wide analysis and air quality monitors and build an advocacy agenda to address air quality issues and implement strategies to mitigate environmental harms.
($499,939) The Research Foundation for the State University of New York, University at Albany, will improve air quality and public health across underserved neighborhoods in New York State by leveraging low-cost sensor monitoring to determine air pollutant exposures and engage and empower community stakeholders. Collected data will help to reduce ambient and indoor air pollution concentrations. Areas of special focus will include New York’s Capital District, Cohoes, Harlem, Kingston, Newburgh Poughkeepsie and Schenectady.
($499,032) The State University of New York at Albany will create the NY Capital District communities air quality measurement network, which will be built based on low-cost sensors outdoor/indoor measurements, with five community schools as sites and supplemented by mobile lab measurements. Analysis of these measurements will provide air pollution outdoor/indoor exposure estimations and promote policies and practices to improve air quality and health outcomes. Areas of special focus will include Albany, Troy and Schenectady.
($499,963) The Onondaga Lake Cleanup Corp, a not-for-profit organization, will create a community-based education and outreach campaign to provide accessible air quality data through a web-based dashboard. Residents and communities can use the information to protect individual and community health and advocate for effective solutions. South and Southwest neighborhoods of Syracuse, N.Y., will be areas of special focus.
The Onondaga Environmental Institute said, “The partners are excited to be working together with EPA on this project. The partnership is the result of key grassroots initiatives that arose out of environmental fights in Environmental Justice (EJ) communities. Along with air monitoring accompanying highway construction in EJ neighborhoods, the Onondaga Environmental Institute, Onondaga Earth Corps, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, City of Syracuse, Focusing Our Resources for Community Enlightenment, Syracuse City School District, and SUNY Upstate Medical University will work with a citizen’s advisory group to create a community-based education and outreach campaign that will provide accessible air quality data through a web-based dashboard. Residents and communities can use the information to protect individual and community health and advocate for effective neighborhood solutions to air quality issues.”
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.
See the full list of applications selected for award.
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.
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