US EPA awards $50 million to communities to improve air quality monitoring


November 3 (Reuters) – The U.S. government will award state and local governments, housing authorities and nonprofits on the front lines of air pollution 132 new grants totaling $53.4 million for air quality monitoring projects, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Nov. Thursday.

The grants, which the EPA called the largest investment in air pollution monitoring in its history, come after federal investment in air quality monitoring declined over several decades. President Joe Biden’s administration aims to reduce pollution in poor and minority communities that often bear the brunt of industrial emissions.

“It’s time we gave American communities the tools and resources they need to track critical data about the air they breathe,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

The Inflation Reduction Act contributed about $30 million to subsidies, according to the regulator.

Most applicants in 37 states will receive between $200,000 and $500,000 in grants for monitoring hazardous substances such as particulates, hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide from industrial sources, including oil and gas projects .

Federal funding for the U.S. Air Monitoring Network, which is overseen by the EPA and operated and maintained by state and local environmental agencies, has waned in recent years, declining about 20% from 2004 to 2020. , after adjusting for inflation, leaving it in poor shape, according to a 2020 report by the Government Office of Accountability.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a new office earlier this year to focus on the needs of minority communities overwhelmed by pollution and oversee the awarding of $3 billion in environmental justice grants created by the recent passage of the IRA climate legislation.

Last year, the agency announced $20 million in grants to communities to help them monitor their air for pollutants.

Reporting by Laura Sanicola; Editing by David Gregorio

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