In the News
EPA Announces Texas Organizations to Receive Over $3 Million for Air Monitoring Projects
Dallas, November 3, 2022
Tags: Energy & Environment
By: Jennah Durant and Joe Robledo
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that six Texas organizations will receive $3,050,010 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 vulnerable communities to have better data on toxic pollutants and allows for development on community led strategies that achieve healthy air quality.”
“I’m proud of the $500,000 in federal grant funds the EPA awarded to the City of Houston for their community air monitoring projects,” said Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia. “This will help improve Houston’s local air quality and educate residents on the hazards of air pollutants. These funds are a direct result of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. I strongly supported both laws in Congress because I knew it would help communities like ours. I look forward to seeing the positive impact this grant will bring to Houston neighborhoods.”
“After years of inaction and inattention to this insidious problem, I am very pleased there is a much broader understanding of how communities of color are directly impacted by the harmful emissions that emanate from mobile and stationary sources. Today, the EPA announces its award of $6,100,021.58 in funding, the largest investment for community air monitoring in EPA history, to enhance air quality monitoring in marginalized communities,” said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson. “The City of Houston will receive $499,982 for community air monitoring while Achieving Community Tasks Successfully (ACTS) will receive $499,197 for an air monitoring campaign in some of the communities that I represent, specifically, Pleasantville, Sunnyside, Fifth Ward, and Galena Park. It is gratifying to see that the funding for which I advocated will be allocated in the form of grants to the City of Houston and organizations that are working in local communities. This funding will target the problem of air pollution in the neighborhoods that have been most affected by toxic emissions. The real-time monitoring of these airborne toxins will enable us to better understand the risks that they pose to human health, the specific neighborhoods which are most in jeopardy, and the steps that will be necessary to curtail harmful activities that impair the health and lives of Houstonians.”
“Every American deserves to breathe clean air free from pollutants and chemicals that harm children, families, and communities,” said Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher. “The funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and Inflation Reduction Act Community Air Monitoring Grants will help the City of Houston monitor air quality issues more effectively, ensuring our community enjoys the cleanest air possible. I was glad to authorize this funding to help reduce air pollution and public health risks.”
The city of Houston and Achieving Community Tasks Successfully (ACTS) will receive $499,982 and $499,197 respectively for community air monitoring in several Houston-area neighborhoods. The city of Houston will monitor for four hazardous air pollutants in the Meadowbrook/Allendale, Park Place and Pecan Park neighborhoods with community members working towards implementing education programs for residents. ACTS will receive $499,197 for an air monitoring campaign in the Pleasantville, Sunnyside, Fifth Ward and Galena Park areas. The campaign’s goal is improving community health by reducing exposure to pollutants, increasing surveillance and response from local and state governments, and implementing community-led efforts on disaster planning and contributing to new data for national risk assessments and rulemakings.
The Capital Area of Governments will receive $660,272 to establish two air monitoring projects in the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown area. The projects will include operating seven air quality monitors and distributing 20 sensors in the area. The projected outcome will improve knowledge of how high-level pollutants occur, improve pollutant forecasting and expand community capacity for future monitoring activities.
The Centro Fronterizo del Obrero (dba) La Mujer Obrera organization will receive $500,000 to implement a mitigation plan to protect the health of residents in El Paso’s Barrio Chamizal. The air quality data will provide a baseline analysis across transportation emissions, environmental justice concerns, and known pollution sources.
The Lubbock Compact Foundation will receive $482,959 to install and operate 40 air monitors for the next three years in the northwestern area of Texas. Additionally, this project will also investigate potential causes for documented health disparities in target neighborhoods.
The Port Arthur Community Action Network will receive $407,600 to set air monitoring baselines in the Greater Port Arthur and Lake Charles area. The two objectives for this project will be to fix air pollutant sensors with a weather station attached and establish a mobile air monitoring system that provides a baseline survey.
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.
See the list of applications selected for award.
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.