Community Air Pollution Monitoring Projects in Oregon to Receive Over $1 Million in EPA Funding
$53 million for 132 local projects nationwide is EPA’s largest ever investment in community air monitoring
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced three community air pollution monitoring projects in Oregon will receive $1,116,626 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.
“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.
“An essential step in reducing air pollution for communities throughout Oregon is to equip them with modern monitoring tools that provide accurate and timely data,” said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden. “These federal investments in those tools from legislation I worked to pass will make a huge difference for people living and working in these communities. And I’ll keep battling for similar investments that make similar air quality impacts statewide.”
“There is a presumption that coastal air is always clean, which has resulted in a lack of air quality monitoring. Because of this misconceived notion, many of our at risk community members spend more time outdoors and suffer from health issues directly relating to poor air quality,” said Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians Chief Executive Officer Lee Ann Wander. “With more monitoring equipment, community members will be more informed about ambient air quality in real time and will be able to make informed decisions pertaining to the amount of time they choose to spend outdoors during periods of poor air quality.”
“Climate change continues to affect our state through more extreme weather. As a result, we are experiencing increased wildfire smoke and ozone, which is affecting the public health and our environment,” said Oregon DEQ Interim Director Leah Feldon. “DEQ is grateful for this grant money, which will allow us to expand our data gathering and engagement with communities most affected by poor air quality. We are committed to helping ensure these communities have equitable opportunities to make informed decisions and take action to improve local air quality.”
“People who live and work in the Cully community know that it has been burdened by poor air quality and pollution for too long. The strong collaboration between community leaders and experts will ensure the community experience is centered in the important work to clean the air,” said Verde Executive Director Candace Avalos. “The first step for reducing air pollution is coming to a shared understanding of what is causing it, where people experience the highest exposure, and co-creating an action plan to address the air toxics that put people's health and quality of life at risk. Alongside our partners, we are ready to take informed action to ensure that frontline communities are leading the way to improve air quality for all. This project will ensure the community experience is centered in the important work to clean the air.”
EPA will fund the following projects in Oregon:
Confederated Tribes of Coos Lower Umpqua & Siuslaw Indians: Enhanced Air Monitoring for Communities - $500,000
Communities throughout Oregon have expressed a need for additional air monitoring to manage local air quality. Oregon continues to feel the pressure from climate change, extreme drought, and longer wildfire seasons. Numerous adverse health impacts have been associated to exposure from PM2.5 and PM10. People with heart or lung diseases, children, and older adults are the most likely to be affected by particle pollution exposure. Confederated Tribes of Coos Lower Umpqua & Siuslaw Indians will increase community engagement on outdoor and indoor air quality, and develop a network of air quality monitors. The ability to have data to manage local air quality is dependent on having reliable and accurate equipment.
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality: Data to Action: Building a Collaborative Community Framework for Cleaner Air - $498,796
Air pollution, which contains fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and diesel particulate matter (DPM), poses a health risk to all those living in Oregon, but disproportionately impacts Black and Asian communities, young children, and linguistically isolated populations. Oregon DEQ will work with communities, universities, and local and state agencies to design an equitable and sustainable community air monitoring framework for collaborative action. This framework will be used to empower communities – prioritizing underserved, disadvantaged and overburdened communities – to monitor and leverage the data to inform action that will improve their local air quality.
Verde: Cully Clean Air Community Action Project - $117,830
Verde, Neighbors for Clean Air, and Oregon State University will collaborate to gather air quality data using black carbon air monitors and engage the community help to address air quality concerns and improve air quality in Portland’s Cully neighborhood.
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.