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DEC announces awards to support environmental justice programs


Tue, Jan 3rd 2023 12:05 pm

Nearly $900,000 awarded to community-based organizations across state

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos recently announced $898,365 in Environmental Justice Community Air Monitoring Capacity Building grants to help build heathier communities, particularly in areas with a disproportionate air pollution burden. His team said the grants support projects proposed by nine community-based organizations to develop new or strengthen existing air monitoring programs focused on reducing exposure to harmful emissions and improving public health in disadvantaged communities.

“These capacity-building grants will bolster the ongoing work of the state’s community air monitoring initiative, underway now in 10 disadvantaged communities across New York state,” Seggos said. “DEC will continue to address climate change under our nation-leading Climate Act by providing support and resources for community-led initiatives to develop solutions, working hand-in-hand with our partners in communities to reduce pollution, and improve quality of life for New Yorkers.”

This grant opportunity, first announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul last July, is supported by the state Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), with resources designated to environmental justice communities. Funding for eligible organizations in the identified communities of Buffalo/Tonawanda/Niagara Falls, Capital Region (Albany/Rensselaer/Cohoes/Watervliet), Bronx, Manhattan, Rochester, Syracuse, the Mount Vernon/Yonkers area, Brooklyn, Queens and the Hempstead area were eligible for grants from $50,000 to $100,000 to be used for, but not limited to, developing or strengthening existing programs focused on reducing exposure and improving public health in communities most impacted by air pollution, or supporting community engagement in the state's air monitoring program.

Grants included the following projects:

Western New York:

•BRRAlliance Inc., $99,200 for “Black Rock and Riverside Citizen Scientist Education and Air Quality Monitoring for the Home and Community.” This project will focus on educating, training and equipping residents in designated disadvantaged community areas on how to monitor the quality of the air in their homes, how they can improve that quality, and why it is important to do so to improve their health.

•Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, $99,165 for “Breathing Free: A People's Project for Clean Air.” Clean Air Coalition of Western New York will work with the residents of Buffalo and Tonawanda in disadvantaged community areas and be technical advisers to educate the community about air quality, and build a resident-controlled air monitoring program.

In July, Hochul announced the launch of the statewide air quality and greenhouse gas mobile monitoring initiative that is deploying in 10 disadvantaged communities across the state, home to approximately 5 million New Yorkers – 25% of the state's population – in areas overburdened by environmental pollution.

Her team said, “Working in partnership with community-based organizations, the effort to map hyperlocal air pollution and greenhouse gases statewide at the community level is the largest ever undertaken by New York state. The initiative is bolstered by an estimated $3 million in state grant funding – $1 million for Community Air Monitoring Capacity Building Grants, and an additional $2 million in new funding supporting community-led air monitoring to complement the state's efforts.

“The air monitoring program will identify hyperlocal information about air quality impacts in these overburdened areas, and help the state identify mitigation activities. This first-ever statewide mobile monitoring complements DEC’s existing efforts to measure levels of outdoor air pollution at more than 50 sites across the state using continuous and/or manual instrumentation. 

“These efforts are part of the state’s actions under the nation-leading Climate Leadership and Community Protection, with the Climate Action Council Scoping Plan recently approved and adopted, to achieve the required climate targets, including 85% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels. For more information about the initiative, go to https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/125320.html.

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