The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the Oklahoma agency Cherokee Nation will receive $69,770 from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and American Rescue Plan to enhance air quality monitoring in marginalized communities. The project is focused on communities that are underserved, historically marginalized, and overburdened by pollution, supporting President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative.
“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 for vulnerable communities to have better data on toxic pollutants and allows for development on community led strategies that achieve healthy air quality.”
The Cherokee Nation will receive $69,770 to perform monitoring with sensors in the vicinity of the Pryor air monitoring site. This action addresses a potential concern with elevated air pollution levels emitted from the nearby MidAmerica Industrial Park. The sensor data will be compared against existing monitors in operation, and then can be set up in any community as needed or used for outreach in local schools as part of STEM curricula.
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.