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EPA Rolls Out $4.3 B in Climate Grants
By Chris Clayton
Monday, July 22, 2024 4:06AM CDT

OMAHA (DTN) -- The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday announced more than $4.3 billion in grants to reduce climate pollution in projects across 30 states, looking to reduce nearly 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide with the funds.

At least some of the projects also would help develop climate-smart agricultural practices or reduce livestock pollution.

EPA's Climate Pollution Reduction Grants will fund 25 projects -- some involve multiple states -- that lower greenhouse-gas emissions from a particular industry or sequester carbon. Nearly all the projects also have some component of developing renewable energy or saving energy through efficiency.

EPA stated the projects would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much 971 million metric tons (mmt) by 2050, or roughly the emissions of 5 million homes of energy use over 25 years.

Some projects also focus on agriculture and working lands:

-- Illinois' state EPA is receiving $430.3 million to help decarbonize buildings and industry, including electrification of freight moving, and the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices as well as expanding renewable energy. The funding will help Illinois reach its goal of developing 100% carbon-free power by 2045.

-- A joined project in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland will split $421.2 million to "leverage carbon sequestration" in both natural and working lands, including coastal wetland, peatlands and forests.

-- The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy will receive $307 million to help boost the adoption of climate-smart practices and reduce agricultural waste from livestock. The grant also will fund projects in the city of Lincoln, Nebraska, to improve energy efficiency in both commercial buildings and low-income areas of the city.

-- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will receive $200 million to develop a Minnesota Climate-Smart Food Systems project to help restore peatland in the state, implement climate-smart practices on farms, improve energy efficiency with new refrigeration equipment and reduce food waste.

-- The Montana Department of Natural Resources will receive $49.8 million to work on landscape resiliency projects that improve forest management and help with forests in urban areas. The project also will help reduce pollution from agriculture and mitigate wildfires.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan on Monday was expected to roll out the full list of projects at an event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On a call Friday, Regan credited the states and communities that applied for funding. "Selected recipients have put forward ambitious plans to advance sustainable agriculture, deploy clean industrial technologies, cut emissions and energy costs in homes and commercial buildings, and provide cost- and energy-efficient heating and cooling to communities, creating economic and workforce development opportunities along the way."

Regan said the projects would help communities that have been struggling with "flooding, heat waves, wildfires and other destabilizing impacts of climate change."

A handful of states are using funds to help build out electric charging stations for cars and heavy-duty vehicles as well.

Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird said the $307 million going to Nebraska would reduce emissions in the state by 134 mmt by 2050. The energy efficiency projects in Lincoln would reduce pollution emissions "a whopping 77% by 2050," she said. One of the simple goals in her community would be to help upgrade electricity in low-income areas.

"That not only will improve our residents' comfort in our homes and lower energy costs, it will also reduce emissions," Gaylor Baird said. "So, this approach just underscores the important role of local governments in simultaneously addressing the climate change, while enhancing access to affordable housing, and improving public health and reducing disparities."

While rural counties have pushed back against at least some solar projects in Nebraska, Gaylor Baird said, "the potential of solar power is immense."

The Biden administration's continuing investments in green energy programs also contrast with former President Donald Trump's strategy to end such spending and expand the use of fossil fuels. In his speech to the Republican National Convention, Trump said he would take green energy money and spend it elsewhere. "And all of the trillions of dollars that are sitting there not yet spent, we will redirect that money for important projects like roads, bridges, dams and we will not allow it to be spent on the meaningless Green New scam ideas," Trump said in his speech.

Regan was asked about the prospect of green-energy projects going away if the administration changes in January. Regan said he could not speak about the future, but focus on "maximizing this opportunity with the $4.3 billion that we have."

Chris Clayton can be reached at Chris.Clayton@dtn.com

Follow him on social platform X @ChrisClaytonDTN

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