EPA Administrator Regan Visits Allentown, Highlights Climate Pollution Reduction Funding | WDIY Local News
Federal, state, and local officials are highlighting the impact of a major federal grant program to help combat climate change.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan joined Congresswoman Susan Wild, D-7th, Allentown Mayor Matt Tuerk, and other local officials and representatives at the waterfront in Allentown on Tuesday to discuss the EPA’s Climate Pollution Reduction Grants program.
The $5 billion CPRG program provides resources for states, tribes, territories and municipalities to develop and implement solutions to protect people from pollution and advance environmental justice.
The two-stage grant program is part of the federal Inflation Reduction Act, and includes $250 million in funding for planning grants, along with $4.6 billion for competitive implementation grants.
Regan said in a statement that tackling the climate crisis “demands a sense of urgency to protect people and the planet,” adding that efforts like the CPRG program are “an unprecedented opportunity to provide communities like Allentown with resources to develop innovative strategies that address worsening climate change impacts, create good paying jobs, and deliver economic benefits for all.”
Through the program, Pennsylvania and the other states will each receive $3 million in grant funding, which will be used to identify opportunities to reduce climate pollution, promote clean energy, and develop strategies to drive economic benefits, according to a release from Wild’s office.
Locally the Lehigh Valley, through the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission, will receive $1 million to foster regional collaboration and help the region’s municipalities tackle pollution while generating economic growth, and also to update or create climate, energy, or sustainability plans.
Regarding investment opportunities, Tuerk said that “For too long, middle-class communities like Allentown have missed out on opportunities to make investments that lower the cost of energy efficiency and ensure an equitable future for residents.”
Wild said she was proud to see investments coming to the Greater Lehigh Valley region, and she said the grant program, “is going to help this city, Allentown, as well as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, start on a path towards a more sustainable future – and will also help to create good-paying jobs in the immediate.”
In May, LVPC Executive Director Becky Bradley spoke with WDIY about how the planning commission was able to secure its $1 million allotment, as under the CPRG program, only the 67 most populous metropolitan areas in the country were eligible to receive this money.
“Well we’re the 69th largest region in the Untied States. New Haven, Connecticut was the 68th,” Bradley explained. “We didn’t want to accept that, so we were going to work with EPA to try to come up with some other way to get access to that funding.
“Because of those advocacy efforts, and because some states who were also eligible for the funding decided not to file their notice of intent, we were able to go and get $1 million for climate action.”
The funding awards were announced in April by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which said that two other planning commissions – the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission – would also receive $1 million each.
Bradley said the LVPC would use the money to work on the regional climate action plan, with elements including a regional green infrastructure program, alternative fuel strategies, air quality monitors, improved walking and biking, and increased investment in LANTA, among other measures.
The EPA says Priority Climate Action Plans are due by March 1, 2024, and that applications for the general implementation grants competition will likely be due around the beginning of April 2024.
(Original air-date: 6/27/23)