Latest Step in Advancing New York’s Statewide Community Air Monitoring Program to Help Improve Air Quality in Communities Most Burdened by Pollution
Implements Ambitious Requirements of Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act
Funding Announced on the Final Day of Air Quality Awareness Week
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced $2.1 million in competitive grant funding is now available to support community-driven projects to improve air quality and help advance the goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The funding, announced during Air Quality Awareness Week, will support community-based not-for-profit organizations working in disadvantaged communities throughout the state that are disproportionately burdened by pollution. The grants will advance local efforts to obtain air quality data tailored to issues identified by community residents.
“As someone who grew up in the shadow of a steel plant that contributed to orange skies and a polluted Lake Erie, I know firsthand the urgency of our fight against air pollution and climate change,” Governor Hochul said. “These grants will target the air quality challenges faced by disadvantaged communities and help advance strategies to create a greener state and improve the health and well-being of all New Yorkers."
In July 2022, Governor Hochul announced the launch of the historic statewide air quality and greenhouse gas mobile monitoring initiative that is underway in 10 disadvantaged communities across the state, home to approximately five million New Yorkers - 25 percent of the state's population - in areas overburdened by environmental pollution. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is working in partnership with community-based organizations to map hyperlocal air pollution and greenhouse gases statewide at the community level. The initiative is bolstered by approximately $3 million in State grant funding for the 2022-23 Community Air Monitoring Capacity Building Grants and funding announced today to support community-led air monitoring to complement these ongoing efforts.
Nearly $900,000 for capacity-building grants was announced in December 2022 to support nine community-based organizations developing new or strengthening existing air monitoring programs focused on reducing exposure to harmful emissions in disadvantaged communities. To learn more about the State’s Community Air Monitoring program, visit the DEC website.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner and Climate Action Council Co-Chair Basil Seggos said, “Significant work and local collaboration is advancing since Governor Hochul launched the statewide Community Air Monitoring initiative in 10 disadvantaged communities last year. The $2.1 million in available grants announced during Air Quality Awareness Week will be instrumental in ensuring local-state partnerships bolster this effort identifying local sources of pollution and driving solutions and actions to improve air quality in neighborhoods across the state.”
New York State Department of Health Acting Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, “I admire Governor Hochul’s leadership and commitment to helping communities improve air quality. These State grants are vital for the wellbeing of all New Yorkers, as poor air quality directly affects respiratory health, such as Asthma, among other health concerns, especially for those communities that are adversely affected by pollution.”
State Senate Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Pete Harckham said, “In underserved communities statewide, where residents have lived with terrible air quality because of heavy industries and vehicular traffic, we need to reduce emissions and air pollution as quickly as we can. As we work to reduce those emissions, it is imperative that we know each step of the way if we are making tangible progress. The continued implementation of state-of-the-art monitoring systems is good news, and I am glad that new grant funding is being made available for this.”
State Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Deborah J. Glick said, “Climate justice is a central pillar of the CLCPA because disadvantaged communities have been disproportionately polluted. The communities that have faced the brunt of harmful emissions must continue to receive meaningful investments to improve air and water quality, and I look forward to working with Governor Hochul to ensure that happens.”
Applicants for this funding may be awarded up to $500,000 each until monies have been exhausted. The deadline to submit an application is 3 p.m. on July 26, 2023. Questions regarding this grant opportunity will be accepted until 5 p.m. on July 12, 2023. All questions and answers will be uploaded in the Grants Gateway on a rolling basis. For a complete list of guidelines and more information, contact DEC’s Office of Environmental Justice at 518-402-8556, [email protected], or online at DEC's Environmental Justice webpage.
Air Quality Awareness Week (May 1–5, 2023) highlights resources that increase air quality awareness and encourages people to take action and incorporate air quality knowledge into their daily living. For information about state actions and programs addressing air quality in New York State, go to the DEC website and the New York State Department of Health website.
DEC continues to hold regular meetings with the communities participating in the statewide community air monitoring effort, including an upcoming round of meetings this month for Brooklyn, Queens, Rochester, Syracuse, Mount Vernon/Yonkers/New Rochelle, and Hempstead/New Cassel/Roosevelt/Uniondale/Westbury. For more information, visit the DEC webpage.
The community air monitoring grant program builds on New York State’s ongoing efforts to advance climate justice, including the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act), which requires the State to invest or direct resources to ensure that disadvantaged communities receive at least 35 percent, with the goal of 40 percent, of overall benefits of spending on clean energy and energy efficiency programs. The Climate Justice Working Group in March also finalized the disadvantaged communities criteria to guide the equitable implementation of Climate Act investments.
Funding for this grant opportunity is provided from the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) with resources designated to Environmental Justice. The EPF is a critical resource for environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, recreation access, water quality improvement, and environmental justice projects. Among the many environmental victories in the 2023-24 State Budget, Governor Kathy Hochul and legislative leaders maintained the EPF at $400 million, the highest-ever level of funding in the program's history.