Lane Regional Air Protection Agency awarded EPA grant for nearly $5 million to improve air quality in Oakridge, OR
Five-year investment expected to net long-term benefits for area residents
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded a $4.9 million Targeted Airshed Grant to the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency to help the city of Oakridge improve air quality. Grant funds will be used to reduce harmful fine particle air pollution from wood smoke through a wide range of programs, including a woodstove change-out program, increased weatherization and a local seasoned firewood provision campaign.
“This grant will help Oakridge residents breathe easier, especially in the fall and winter months,” said Chris Hladick, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle. “EPA’s Targeted Airshed Grant funding will further bolster the community's already successful efforts to reduce wood smoke pollution and improve local air quality.”
“Our agency is looking forward to collaborating with the City of Oakridge and other key stakeholders to implement the strategies in the Targeted Airshed Grant Program,” said Merlyn Hough, director of LRAPA. “We are encouraged by Oakridge’s improvement in air quality in recent years and this funding opportunity will help us achieve permanent reductions of particle pollution.”
According to Oakridge Mayor, Kathy Holston, partnership is key to their multi-level effort to protect local air quality.
“This is a transforming grant,” said Mayor Holston. “As a community nestled in the national forest that has relied on wood heat for decades, our tenacity to prove that wood can be a clean source of heat when managed properly has been rewarded. Because of the hard work of our partners, LRAPA and the State of Oregon, we are now assured that we can continue to improve the quality of life for our community. I am extremely proud of our success to date and the additional opportunity for improvements this grant will bring.”
Oakridge will use the Targeted Airshed grant funds over the next five years for:
- Expanded weatherization and repair
- Heating system conversion for homeowners and renters
- Enhanced compliance enforcement and diversion program
- Community/In-school education materials
- Creation of a “How-to” guide for protecting both indoor and outdoor air quality
- Expansion of the Community’s Seasoned Firewood Provision program
- Increased AQ and Health monitoring, equipment and air filters to create smoke refuges.
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 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, Congress funded the grants at $40 million to reduce air pollution in nonattainment areas. The overall goal of the Airshed program is to reduce air pollution in the nation’s areas with the highest levels of ozone and PM2.5. For more information about EPA Targeted Airshed Grants, see last year’s Request for Applications.
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