The Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it would spend $50 million to monitor air quality in “marginalized” communities around the country and would use funds provided by legislation that was aimed at saving the economy and reducing inflation.
The EPA said it would fund 132 air monitoring projects in 37 states, thanks largely to two massive spending bills signed by President Biden – the Inflation Reduction Act and the American Rescue Plan.
According to the EPA, about $30 million in funding for the projects will come from Inflation Reduction Act money, and $20 million will come from the American Rescue Plan. The agency said funding is aimed at “communities that are underserved, historically marginalized, and overburdened by pollution.”
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“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 long-standing pollution challenges, said EPA Administrator Michael Regan.
Regan said Thursday’s announcement marked the first air monitoring grants funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, and the EPA noted it is the “largest investment for community air monitoring in EPA history.”
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The EPA grant complies with the Biden administration’s Justice40 initiative, which aims to spend at least 40% of certain funding on communities “marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.” Democrat supporters of the grants praised EPA’s move.
“For too long, these communities have been overburdened by air pollution while often contributing disproportionately little to the cause,” said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del.
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“These projects are especially crucial for environmental justice communities, which continue to bear the brunt of air pollution and its adverse health effects,” added Rep. Frank Pallone, DN.J.
Republicans have criticized the two huge funding bills for adding to inflationary pressures in the US – inflation levels are near a 40-year high, and have forced the Federal Reserve to engage in an aggressive rate hiking cycle that has pummeled equity markets.
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The total cost of the Inflation Reduction Act was about $700 billion, and the American Rescue Plan clocked in at $1.9 trillion. Republicans have said Biden’s signature bills are adding to inflation, not reducing it as promised in their titles.