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For Release: Tuesday, December 27, 2022

DEC Announces Awards to Nine Organizations to Support Environmental Justice Community Air Monitoring Capacity-Building Programs

Nearly $900,000 Awarded to Community-Based Organizations Across New York State

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today 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. 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," said Commissioner Seggos. "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 Governor Kathy Hochul in July (leaves DEC website), 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 were awarded to the following projects:

Capital District

Media Alliance, Inc., $100,000 for "Capital Region Air Justice Lab"

Air Justice Lab creates access and education to a dispersed network of PurpleAir sensors in the Capital District Study Area, building capacity for a public data calibrated network and community-wide competency and education through air testing.

Radix Ecological Sustainability Center, $100,000 for "Atmojustice: Youth-Engaged Air Quality Monitoring in Environmental Justice Communities"

Atmojustice will deploy air quality monitors in the South End of Albany and collect and report data back to local residents. Radix's Ecojustice Associates youth employment program will participate in all aspects of the program.

Hudson Valley

Groundwork Hudson Valley, $100,000 for "SW Yonkers Air Quality (AQ) Education Campaign and Planning Project"

The project will expand efforts to inform this Environmental Justice area about the critical relationship between climate change, air pollutants, and individual and community health risks and create a community-based air quality monitoring plan.

New York City Metro

Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, $100,000 for "Breathe North Brooklyn"

Breathe North Brooklyn will expand Neighbors' capacity to measure air quality in North Brooklyn, integrate air quality monitoring efforts undertaken by organizations and community members, and expand its existing air quality awareness efforts.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Inc., $100,000 for "Climate Justice and Air Quality Capacity Building and Community Education Project"

The project will build organizations' air monitoring capacity and develop and deliver a bilingual (English-Spanish) curriculum to educate and develop local resident leaders on air quality issues in partnership with an affiliate of the organization.

West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc. fiscal sponsor for South Bronx Unite, $100,000 for "South Bronx Unite Seeking Breathable Air in Asthma Alley: Data Mapping and Community Education"

South Bronx Unite will install air monitors at 40 strategic locations at breathing level to collect ongoing air quality data in Mott Haven - Port Morris, inviting public participation and building knowledge and solutions for a breathable community.

Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, Inc. (YPMJ), $100,000 for "YMPJ Cross Bronx Expressway Air Quality Monitoring"

YMPJ will partner with four other South Bronx community-based organizations to train residents to collect particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5, and PM10) air quality data in the vicinity of the Cross Bronx Expressway.

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 advisors to educate the community about air quality and build a resident-controlled air monitoring program.

In July, Governor Hochul announced the launch of the historic statewide air quality and greenhouse gas mobile monitoring initiative that is deploying 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. 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 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 from 1990 levels. For more information about the initiative, go to DEC's website.

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

New York State's nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York's unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $35 billion in 120 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.6 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting more than 165,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector in 2021, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Under the Climate Act, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state's 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.

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