EPA Announces Louisiana to Receive Nearly $2.4 Million for Air Monitoring Projects
Largest investment for community air monitoring in EPA history funded by President Biden’s Climate and Economic Plans
DALLAS, TEXAS (November 3rd, 2022) –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced four Louisiana organizations will receive $2,399,604 from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and American Rescue Plan to enhance air quality monitoring in marginalized communities. The organizations are the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), LSU Health Foundation, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice Inc and the Louisiana Environmental Action Network.
“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.”
“EPA has prioritized cutting harmful pollution in communities and this announcement delivers on that promise,” said Regional Administrator Dr. Earthea Nance. “We are pleased to award these grants to the state, local, tribal agencies and community-based groups to monitor air pollution in their areas. “This funding will allow vulnerable communities to have better data on toxic pollutants and allows for development on community led strategies that achieve healthy air quality.”
“For far too long, environmental injustice and toxic pollution have devastated communities and entire families in Louisiana — particularly in the River Parishes,” said Congressman Troy Carter. “Today’s grant awards to increase air-quality monitoring will help arm communities and the federal government with the necessary information to improve health and safety in our communities once and for all. As a longtime advocate for independent air-quality monitoring, I am proud that Congress has allocated these funds and am grateful to the Biden-Harris Administration and EPA Administrator Regan for their unprecedented focus and attention to fighting for environmental justice. There is a lot more still to do to eliminate health outcome disparities across America, but this is an important step forward towards healthier, safer communities.”
LDEQ will receive $902,213 for use in the St. James Parish and Alexandria-Pineville areas. In the Alexandria-Pineville area, LDEQ will set up a station to monitor air pollution from two wood-treating facilities. In the St. James Parish area, a monitoring site will provide real-time data on certain pollutants and allow nearby communities access to this information.
The LSU Health Foundation will receive $498,480 for a community-led air monitoring campaign. This campaign will encourage intergenerational learning and community engagement, preserve cultural history, enable informed decision-making, and foster strategic political collective action for New Orleans neighborhoods.
The Deep South Center for Environmental Justice Inc. will receive $498,911 to build the capacity of local environmental justice groups in the St. John the Baptist Parish area. This action will allow for the groups to monitor their air quality, engage with stakeholders and become more active and effective in civic engagement.
The Louisiana Environmental Action Network will receive $500,000 to assess air quality at the block level throughout South Louisiana’s industrial corridor along the Mississippi River, with a focus on expanding air quality literacy in historically underserved communities and identifying strategies to reduce exposure and emissions.
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. More than $4 million will be awarded to communities visited by EPA Administrator Michael Regan during his first Journey to Justice tour.
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.
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.
The announcement today delivers on Administrator Regan’s commitment to action following his ongoing Journey to Justice tour. Following the first leg of the tour through Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas in November 2021, EPA encouraged communities to apply for the grants. Today’s selectees include eight projects in communities from the tour, totaling nearly $4 million from this grant program. These awards to communities from Journey to Justice and additional awards to underserved and overburdened communities reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to deliver environmental justice and the whole-of-government approach to addressing these issues in communities that are historically marginalized.
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 particle 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.