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EPA Awards Nearly $30 Million to Western Communities for Air Quality Improvement Projects

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WASHINGTON  — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded $30 million in Targeted Airshed Grants to fund nine projects in Alaska, California and Utah to tackle some of the country’s toughest air quality challenges.

“These grants will enable states and local agencies to improve air quality in areas most affected by air pollution,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “EPA is committed to supporting clean air projects that will reduce air pollution in nonattainment areas and enhance public health.”

“These grants will collectively reduce tons of harmful pollutants from wood burning sources and vehicles every year,” said EPA Region 8 Administrator Doug Benevento. “EPA will continue to find ways to support Utah DEQ and help Utah communities address air quality challenges along the Wasatch Front.”

“Despite significant efforts, the South Coast and San Joaquin air basins still experience some of the worst air quality in the nation,” said EPA Acting Region 9 Administrator Alexis Strauss. “We are pleased to continue working with our partners on projects that will help further improve air quality and public health in these areas.”

“The state, the Borough and local leaders are making progress and air quality looks to be improving. There is still work to do to get to healthier air, and if we all keep working together, we’ll get there,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Chris Hladick. “EPA’s Targeted Airshed Grant funding will further bolster the community's efforts to reduce wood smoke pollution and improve air quality in the Borough.”

“After working hard to increase funding for this program through the congressional appropriations process, I thank EPA for its prompt recognition of the continued need to address air quality issues in Fairbanks,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK). “EPA’s sustained commitment to Fairbanks will help local residents undertake projects that cut air pollution and result in cleaner, healthier air for everyone.”
“I welcome this grant announcement and am glad the EPA is taking seriously the need to work with and assist state and local governments to address the challenges of tackling the PM2.5 issue in the North Star Borough,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan (AK). “Interior Alaska faces some of the most extreme temperatures in the nation and ensuring affordable and reliable ways for Alaskans to heat their homes during the winter and keep the lights on during prolonged darkness is extremely important. This grant announcement is a step in the right direction, but I hope we can continue to work together at the federal, state and local level to find creative solutions that will address the area’s air quality issues while not unnecessarily harming local residents and businesses.”

“I’m very pleased that the EPA is awarding Fairbanks this grant and supporting their transition to cleaner energy production,” said Rep. Don Young (AK). “Recently, a report found that Fairbanks has the worst fine particulate pollution in the U.S., and in a region with such extreme winter weather, residents need an adequate source of heat. Burning wood has historically been an excellent heat source, but now the risks are too high. This grant will help people in the Fairbanks region switch to cleaner sources of heat and breathe a little easier.”

“These grants will help make improvements to equipment that our local farmers and ranchers use every day to put food on the table for families here in the San Joaquin Valley and across America,” said Rep. Jeff Denham (CA-10).

“We continue to see air quality as the number one health concern for people living along the Wasatch Front. That’s why we are looking forward to partnering with the EPA. These targeted airshed grants, which give over $12 million to Utah cities, will play a significant role in helping to eliminate pollution by changing out wood-burning appliances and replacing outdated diesel trucks,” said Utah Governor Gary Herbert. “We ask all Utahns to consider their impact on the environment, and to join Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality and the EPA in making the hard decisions that will help clean Utah’s air.”

“I very much appreciate EPA’s willingness to help fund our community’s upgrades to cleaner burning home heating devices. Everyone in the community would like cleaner air and this funding helps our citizens contribute to the solution in a cost-effective manner. This program is very popular and will provide real emission reductions,” said Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Karl Kassel.

”We appreciate the EPA for helping Salt Lake City homeowners make the transition to cleaner burning fireplaces,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “This means homeowners with fireplaces and their neighbors will be able to breath cleaner air here on the Wasatch Front, which can make a big difference during inversions.”

“Air quality is a key issue for the health of our citizens and for future economic development,” said City of Logan Mayor Holly Daines. “We are pleased to receive over $6 million in EPA grant funds to help reduce diesel emissions by replacing older trucks as well as to change out wood- burning appliances, both of which create a significant impact on our Cache Valley airshed.”

“The Fairbanks North Star Borough and its residents have been making good progress towards meeting the national health standards.  An important part of their success has been the stove change-out program,” said Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Larry Hartig. “This much-needed funding from EPA assures the community will be able to continue replacing older, high polluting woodstoves with cleaner burning sources of heat for their homes and achieve healthier air for all.”  

"We are pleased to receive these airshed grants, which will supplement our continuing efforts to protect public health by improving air quality," said Utah Department of Environmental Quality Executive Director Alan Matheson. "The work funded by these grants will go a long way to reduce pollution in Utah communities from wood burning and diesel equipment."

“We greatly appreciate EPA’s attention and care for the health of Valley residents,” said San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Pollution Control Officer and Executive Director Seyed Sadredin. “This grant from EPA will help us with our enormous challenge to reduce emissions from mobile sources, which make up 85% of the pollution in the San Joaquin Valley.”

“The funds are a great investment in our agency’s collective efforts to help reduce students’ and residents’ exposure to harmful vehicle exhaust,” said South Coast Air Quality Management District Executive Officer Wayne Nastri. “Collaboration with EPA will enhance our efforts to clean the air in school districts in communities most heavily affected by air pollution.”

EPA’s Targeted Airshed Grants are used to support local clean air projects in areas facing the highest levels of ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), commonly known as smog and soot. In the 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress funded the grants at $30 million to reduce air pollution in nonattainment areas that the Agency determined were ranked as the top five most polluted areas relative to ozone, annual PM2.5, or 24-hour PM2.5 standards.

This year’s Targeted Airshed Grants will support the following projects in Alaska, California and Utah:
•    Fairbanks, AK – $4 million to replace wood-burning appliances with cleaner alternatives.
•    San Joaquin Valley, CA – $3,184,875 to replace older model diesel agricultural tractors with those that meet the latest emissions standards.
•    San Joaquin Valley, CA – $3,184,875 to replace 2009 or older model year diesel trucks with 2017 or newer model year trucks that run 80-90 percent cleaner.
•    South Coast Air Quality Management District, CA – $3,184,875 to replace old diesel school buses in the LA Unified School District’s fleet.
•    South Coast Air Quality Management District, CA – $3,184,875 to replace 36 diesel and gas airport shuttle buses with battery-electric models manufactured in the South Coast.
•    Logan, UT – $3,184,875 to replace old diesel trucks with significantly less polluting models.
•    Logan, UT – $3,184,875 for wood-burning appliance change-outs to reduce residential wood smoke.
•    Provo, UT – $3,184,875 for wood-burning appliance change-outs to reduce residential wood smoke.
•    Salt Lake City, UT – $3,184,875 for wood-burning appliance change-outs to reduce residential wood smoke.

More information about the grants: