Elizabeth, Jersey City share EPA funding to monitoring of air quality trends

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected the Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth and the City of Jersey City to receive funding to conduct community air quality monitoring for their residents.

The grants are two of 132 air monitoring projects in 37 states that will receive $53.4 million from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and American Rescue Plan to enhance air quality monitoring in communities across the United States.

The projects are focused on communities that are underserved, historically marginalized, and overburdened by pollution, supporting Biden’s Justice40 Initiative.

In addition, EPA is announcing direct awards to state, local, and tribal governments for air monitoring under ARP totaling $22.5 million.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection also received $234,000 to fund enhanced continuous monitoring of air quality trends for fine inhalable particles, with diameters that are generally 2.5 micrometers and smaller, also called Particulate Matter (PM2.5) and replace aging monitoring equipment for five other air pollutants regulated by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards under the Clean Air Act.

“Clean air is a vital resource and a right all communities deserve. This $1 million investment will allow the City of Elizabeth and Jersey City to set up local air monitoring networks and raise community knowledge of air quality and its impacts,” said Regional EPA Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “The Biden-Harris Administration has prioritized direct community participation in information gathering to help reduce harmful air pollution, and today’s announcement helps do just that.”

“All Americans should be able to breathe clean, safe air, no matter where they live,” said Senator Cory Booker. “This federal funding to enhance air quality monitoring will improve the health and well-being of New Jerseyans, particularly those from vulnerable communities, who are disproportionately affected by air pollution.”

 “With today’s announcement, the Biden EPA is safeguarding Americans’ right to clean air by strengthening air monitoring across the country and providing communities the localized information they need to protect public health,” said Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr.

“These projects are especially crucial for environmental justice communities in New Jersey, which continue to bear the brunt of air pollution and its adverse health effects,” said Pallone.

“Development of effective programs to protect our air and reduce climate pollutants depends on strong data,” said New Jersey Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. “These community air pollution monitoring grants will fund projects that will improve that data collection and help us take steps to better protect public health and the environment. This is of particular importance in underserved communities such as Jersey City and Elizabeth that have for too long been overburdened by air pollution.”

Jersey City will receive $465,250 to work in its Greenville and Lafayette neighborhoods to monitor for ozone and particulate matter.

The city government will analyze air quality data against health-based air quality standards and share the data with the public to educate them on exposure, health consequences and personal and community actions to reduce exposure.

Many organizations will be actively engaged in developing policy and programmatic solutions to address adverse air quality and its impacts on health in Jersey City’s underserved communities.

($500,000) The Housing Authority of the City of Elizabeth will engage residents to increase community knowledge of air pollution and provide actionable data. The project will produce air quality readings from 13 locations utilizing a network of air quality sensors. Air quality data will enable the City of Elizabeth to take action and make resources available to increase environmental health and wellness in the city.

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.

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.

EPA will start the process of awarding the funding by the end of 2022, once the grant applicants have met all legal and administrative requirements. Grantees will have three years to spend the funds from the time EPA awards the grants.

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