Today, EPA announced that it will make $50M in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding available to improve air quality monitoring in communities across the United States. The latest set of funding builds on the agency’s recent announcement of $50M for environmental justice projects under the ARP, bringing the total to $100M in EPA funding designated by Congress to address health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID–19 pandemic.
“Through the American Rescue Plan, Congress and the President entrusted EPA with critical funding to help those who are hurting from pollution and the pandemic,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “We know that in too many communities, air pollution led to worse outcomes from COVID-19. Today, we are partnering with our state, Tribal, and local leaders to invest in projects that will improve air quality in communities overburdened by high levels of pollution.”
“This funding is a much-needed down payment on getting state and local clean air agencies the resources they need to advance the equitable protection of healthy air for all,” said Miles Keogh, Executive Director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies.
The major components of the plan to enhance air community monitoring include:
- a grants competition that will seek proposals from community groups and state, Tribal and local government air agencies;
- direct awards to air agencies for continuous monitoring of small particles (known as PM2.5 or soot) and other Clean Air Act pollutants;
- enhanced capacity for short-term community monitoring; and
- support to administer the funding.
Grant Competition for Community Monitoring: Later this year, EPA will launch a $20M grant competition that will call for proposals from community groups, state, Tribal and local air agencies -- individually or in partnerships -- to conduct monitoring of pollutants of greatest concern in communities with health outcome disparities. EPA’s primary objective in issuing these grants is to provide better air quality information in communities. EPA will give grants to support community and local efforts to monitor their own air quality and to promote monitoring partnerships between communities and state, Tribal, and local governments.
Direct Awards to Air Agencies for Continuous Monitoring of PM2.5 and Other Common Air Pollutants: EPA will award $22.5M to state, Tribal or local air agencies for enhanced monitoring of PM2.5 and five other air pollutants regulated by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards under the Clean Air Act. These grants are designed to support monitoring in and near communities with environmental justice concerns who face disproportionate exposure to these pollutants and health risks, which are also associated with increased vulnerability to COVID-19. These funds will be used to replace existing filter-based monitors or otherwise enhance existing monitors in and near those communities to provide 24/7, real-time reporting of air quality concentrations. Automation of PM2.5 monitors will provide fine particulate data of the same quality and allow communities to compare continuous data streams in nearby areas.
Enhanced Regional Capacity for Short-term Community Monitoring Needs: EPA will be investing $5M in agency mobile monitoring labs or air sensor loan programs. These investments will improve EPA’s ability to support communities in need of short-term monitoring and air quality information.
Administrative Support: To improve data management and ensure the grants and programs are properly administered and tracked, the agency will direct $2.5M to oversight and administration activities.
EPA is beginning the coordination process on the grant competition with communities and state, Tribal, and local agencies and plans to issue the calls for proposals in fall 2021.
For more information, please visit https://www.epa.gov/amtic/american-rescue-plan.