New EPA documents reveal even deeper proposed cuts to staff and programs

Read the full story in the Washington Post. The Alliance for Water Efficiency has posted the memo detailing all of the cuts here.

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a new, more detailed plan for laying off 25 percent of its employees and scrapping 56 programs including pesticide safety, water runoff control, and environmental cooperation with Mexico and Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program Grants

Applications due Sep 30, 2017.

For more information: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=289863. Click the Related Documents tab to download the full RFP.

The Coastal Program is a voluntary, incentive-based program that provides direct technical assistance and financial assistance in the form of cooperative agreements to coastal communities and landowners to restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat on public and private lands. Coastal Program staff coordinate with project partners, stakeholders and other Service programs to identify geographic focus areas and develop habitat conservation priorities within these focus areas. Geographic focus areas are where the Coastal Program directs resources to conserve habitat for federal trust species. Project work plans are developed strategically, in coordination with partners, and with substantial involvement from Service field staff. Projects must advance our mission, promote biological diversity, and be based upon sound scientific biological principles. Program strategic plans inform the types of projects funded under this opportunity.

Applicants seeking funding under this program should review the program strategic plan and also contact the regional Coastal Program office prior to submitting an application for funding. Authorizing statues include Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956, 16 U.S.C. 742a-c, 747e-742j; and Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act of 1958, 16 U.S.C. 661 667(e).

ACEEE Accepting Applications for Scholarship to Attend 2017 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry

Application Deadline: April 10, 2017

ACEEE is proud to announce that we are accepting applications for Linda Latham Scholarships to attend our 2017 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Industry in Denver, Colorado from August 15 -18, 2017.  The scholarship was established in memory of Linda Latham who served as ACEEE’s Chief Operating Officer until her untimely death in September 2011. Linda, who helped found the US government’s ENERGY STAR® program, believed that students bring talent and creativity to the field of energy efficiency especially if we provide a venue to inspire and educate them.

Applicants must be an undergraduate or graduate student in an accredited college or university whose course work is related to energy/energy efficiency, climate change, environmental science, or a related field of study, and who is considering a career in energy/ energy efficiency. “Latham Scholars” will be exposed to new ideas and opportunities as they interact with energy efficiency experts from around the world. In turn, Summer Study attendees will be able to meet these exceptional students — a reciprocal opportunity for all!

For the 2017 Summer Study, scholars will receive a full conference registration and housing. A few travel stipends of up to $500 may be available; however, given limited funding, such requests could reduce chances of selection.

How To Apply
Applicants can either complete the online application, or complete this form and email to scholarships@aceee.org. Applications must be submitted with required attachments including a copy of the applicant’s Student ID and proof of student status (unofficial transcript/enrollment for current semester). No applications will be accepted after the April 10, 2017 deadline. An ACEEE committee will review applications and select the winners, who will be notified beginning April 21, 2017.

Please visit the 2017 Summer Study Industry website for more information and contact scholarships@aceee.org if you have questions.

FY 2017 Sustainable Materials Management Grant

Request For Applications (RFA # EPA-R5-LCD-2017)
Open Date: March 15, 2017
Closing Date: June 1, 2017

Summary: EPA Region 5 is soliciting applications to address one of two Sustainable Materials Management priorities. Projects must be implemented in EPA Region 5, which encompasses the states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  Priorities are identified below (see solicitation for additional requirements):

Prevent or Reduce Wasted Food in a Tribal Community
Projects addressing this priority must:

  • Support the goals of a tribe’s approved Integrated Waste Management Plan.
  • Identify a baseline of the significant sources of wasted food in the community.
  • Track, evaluate, and report amounts of wasted food prevented or reduced.
  • Include plans to communicate the outcomes of the project with other tribes and communities, such as through a webinar, conference presentation, etc.

Demystify Potential Midwestern Recycling End Markets through Collaboration
Projects addressing this priority must:

  • Create an information resource to identify end markets as well as the economic opportunity afforded by these potential markets using economic indicators such as jobs, wages and/or tax revenues.
  • Provide estimates of the volume of materials that are and could be managed.
  • Include a long term strategy for maintaining and sharing the end market information.
  • Include a long term strategy for continuing and building on the collaboration established as part of the project.

Informational Call
Date: April 4, 2017 at 2:00 pm Central Time/ 3:00pm Eastern Time
Topic: Land and Chemicals Division, Sustainable Materials Management Request for Applications
Phone Number: 866-299-3188, conference code 9389329

NSF funding opportunity: Energy for Sustainability

Proposal window: October 1, 2017 – October 20, 2017
For more information: https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=505339

The Energy for Sustainability program is part of the Chemical Process Systems cluster, which includes also 1) Catalysis; 2) Process Separations; and 3) Process Systems, Reaction Engineering, and Molecular Thermodynamics.

The goal of the Energy for Sustainability program is to support fundamental engineering research that will enable innovative processes for the sustainable production of electricity and fuels, and for energy storage. Processes for sustainable energy production must be environmentally benign, reduce greenhouse gas production, and utilize renewable resources. Research projects that stress molecular level understanding of phenomena that directly impacts key barriers to improved system level performance (e.g. energy efficiency, product yield, process intensification) are encouraged. Proposed research should be inspired by the need for economic and impactful conversion processes. All proposals should include in the project description, how the proposed work, if successful, will improve process realization and economic feasibility and compare the proposed work against current state-of-the-art. Highly integrated multidisciplinary projects are encouraged.

Current topics of interest are the following:

Electrochemical Energy Systems:

Radically new battery systems or breakthroughs based on existing systems can move the U.S. more rapidly toward a more sustainable transportation future. The focus is on high-energy density and high-power density batteries suitable for transportation and renewable energy storage applications. Advanced systems such as lithium-air, sodium-ion, as well as lithium-ion electrochemical energy storage are appropriate. Work on commercially available systems such as lead-acid and nickel-metal hydride batteries will not be considered by this program.

Advanced fuel cell systems with advanced components for propulsion for transportation are considered. Novel systems with non-commercial components are appropriate; emphasis is still placed on fundamental understanding of the key barriers to improved system level performance. Flow batteries for energy storage applications are appropriate. Similarly emphasis should be placed on fundamental understanding of the reaction and transport phenomena that impacts system performance. Photocatalytic or photoelectrochemical processes for the splitting of water into H2 gas, or for the reduction of CO2 to liquid or gaseous fuels are appropriate. Emphasis should be placed on fundamental molecular level understanding of key barriers that impact system level performance.

Organic Photovoltaics:

Low-Cost, environmentally benign photovoltaic (PV) solar electricity projects are considered. The program emphasis is for fundamental research on innovative processes for the fabrication and theory-based characterization of future organic PV devices (OPVs). Devices of interest include polymer and small molecule organic photovoltaics or dye sensitized photovoltaics for electricity generation.

Referrals to other programs within NSF:

  • Proposals that focus on thermal management of energy storage devices and systems should be submitted to the Thermal Transport Processes Program (CBET 1406).
  • Proposals that focus on thermal catalytic or thermal noncatalytic biomass conversion and advanced biofuels from lignocellulosic biomass should be directed to the Process Systems, Reaction Engineering and Molecular Thermodynamics (PRM) (CBET 1403)
  • Proposals related to the combustion of biomass, gasification, or the production of synthesis gas (syngas) should be sent to Combustion and Fire Systems (CBET 1407).
  • Proposals that focus on the fundamentals of catalysis for biomass conversion should be submitted to Catalysis (CBET 1401).
  • Proposals that focus on the biological production of fuels or electricity (e.g. biocatalysis, metabolic engineering, synthetic biology in the context of bioenergy, biological fermentations) should be directed to the Cellular and Biochemical Engineering program (CBET 1491).
  • Proposals that focus on improving device and system performance of primarily inorganic and hybrid PV technologies may be considered in other ENG programs including the Division of Electrical, Communications, and Cyber Systems. PV materials proposals that focus on the material science may be considered in the Division of Materials Research of the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences.
  • Proposals that focus on the generation of thermal energy by solar radiation may be considered by Thermal Transport Processes (CBET 1406).

The duration of unsolicited awards is typically one to three years.  The typical award size for the program is $100,000 per year. Collaborative proposals that include a strong multi-disciplinary component are typically $150,000 per year. Proposals requesting a substantially higher amount than this, without prior consultation with the Program Director, may be returned without review.

Contact:
Carol Read
National Science Foundation
cread@nsf.gov
Phone: (703) 292-2418

NSF funding opportunity: Environmental Sustainability

Proposal window: October 1, 2017 – October 20, 2017
For more information: https://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=505338

The Environmental Sustainability program is part of the Environmental Engineering and Sustainability cluster, which includes also 1) Environmental Engineering; and 2) Biological and Environmental Interactions of Nanoscale Materials.

The goal of the Environmental Sustainability program is to promote sustainable engineered systems that support human well-being and that are also compatible with sustaining natural (environmental) systems. These systems provide ecological services vital for human survival. Research efforts supported by the program typically consider long time horizons and may incorporate contributions from the social sciences and ethics. The program supports engineering research that seeks to balance society’s need to provide ecological protection and maintain stable economic conditions.

There are four principal general research areas that are supported:

  • Industrial Ecology: Topics of interest in Industrial Ecology include advancements in modeling such as life cycle assessment, materials flow analysis, input/output economic models, and novel metrics for measuring sustainable systems. Innovations in industrial ecology are encouraged.
  • Green Engineering: Research is encouraged to advance the sustainability of manufacturing processes, green buildings, and infrastructure. Many programs in the Engineering Directorate support research in environmentally benign manufacturing or chemical processes. The Environmental Sustainability program supports research that would affect more than one chemical or manufacturing process or that takes a systems or holistic approach to green engineering for infrastructure or green buildings. Improvements in distribution and collection systems that will advance smart growth strategies and ameliorate effects of growth are research areas that are supported by Environmental Sustainability. Innovations in management of storm water, recycling and reuse of drinking water, and other green engineering techniques to support sustainability may also be fruitful areas for research. NOTE: Water treatment proposals are to be submitted to the CBET Environmental Engineering program (1440), NOT the Environmental Sustainability program (7643).
  • Ecological Engineering: Topics should focus on the engineering aspects of restoring ecological function to natural systems. Engineering research in the enhancement of natural capital to foster sustainable development is encouraged.
  • Earth Systems Engineering: Earth systems engineering considers aspects of large scale engineering research that involve mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to climate change, and other global scale concerns.

All proposed research should be driven by engineering principles, and be presented explicitly in an environmental sustainability context. Proposals should include involvement in engineering research of at least one graduate student, as well as undergraduates. Incorporation of aspects of social, behavioral, and economic sciences is welcomed. Innovative proposals outside the scope of the four core areas mentioned above may be considered. However, prior to submission, it is recommended that the PI contact the Program Director to avoid the possibility of the proposal being returned without review. For proposals that call for research to be done outside of the United States, an explanation must be presented of the potential benefit of the research for the United States.

The duration of unsolicited awards is generally one to three years. The typical award size for the program is around $100,000 per year. Proposals requesting a substantially higher amount than this, without prior consultation with the Program Director, may be returned without review.

Contact:
Bruce Hamilton
National Science Foundation
(703) 292-7066
bhamilto@nsf.gov

Grants Management: EPA Has Taken Steps to Improve Competition for Discretionary Grants but Could Make Information More Readily Available

Download the document

What GAO Found

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) manages competition for its discretionary grants through a process established by its competition policy and implemented by its program and regional offices. Under the policy, offices are to advertise discretionary grant opportunities on Grants.gov—a website for federal grant announcements—and may also advertise using other methods, such as trade journals and e-mail lists. The announcements must describe eligibility and evaluation criteria, and the process may be customized to assess (1) all applications against eligibility criteria and (2) eligible applications for merit against evaluation criteria. Under the policy, EPA established a Grants Competition Advocate, a senior official who provides guidance to and oversight of the offices. EPA officials said this position has been key to improving competition for discretionary grants.

From fiscal years 2013 through 2015, EPA provided nearly $1.5 billion in discretionary grants to about 2,000 unique grantees, with state governments, nonprofits, and Indian tribes receiving the largest shares, according to GAO’s analysis of EPA data. Of the $1.5 billion, $579 million was for new grants subject to the competition policy, and according to EPA, the agency met its performance target to competitively award at least 90 percent of these new grant dollars or awards annually. Some discretionary grants are not subject to the competition policy for several reasons—for example because they are available by law only to Indian tribes. Of the remaining approximately $920 million, $282 million was for new grants not subject to the competition policy, and about $632 million was for amendments to existing grants, such as for added work.

Publicly available information from EPA about its discretionary grants is neither easy to identify nor complete. For example, different information about the grants, such as dollar amounts, is available at four federal websites; but three of these websites do not have a way to search all the grants, and the fourth cannot identify the grants because EPA does not flag them in its submissions to the website. EPA officials plan to better flag these grants in the future; however, to obtain complete information, users would still have to search several websites containing different parts of this information. Also, GAO found that the unofficial reports EPA makes publicly available on the number of applications received for its grant competitions contain limited information. Moreover, these reports are not current because EPA relies on manual processes to collect the information from its offices, which can cause reporting delays. Further, GAO found that although EPA’s internal grants management system has a field for tracking grant types, a lack of clarity in EPA’s guidance may contribute to EPA staff’s inconsistent use of this field. Consequently, EPA cannot easily identify discretionary grants in its system or collect complete and accurate information on them. EPA is transitioning to a new system that is expected to be operational in 2018 and to provide the capability to collect more timely and complete information. However, EPA officials said they do not have plans to use the new system to improve their publicly available reports, which is inconsistent with effective internal and external communication suggested by federal internal control standards. More complete information could help Congress and other decision makers better monitor EPA’s management of discretionary grants.

Why GAO Did This Study

EPA annually awards hundreds of discretionary grants, totaling about $500 million. EPA has the discretion to determine grantees and amounts for these grants, which fund a range of activities, from environmental research to wetlands restoration. EPA awards and manages discretionary grants at 10 headquarters program offices and 10 regional offices. Past reviews by GAO and EPA’s Inspector General found that EPA has faced challenges managing such grants, including procuring insufficient competition for them and providing incomplete public information about them. GAO was asked to review EPA’s management of discretionary grants.

This report examines (1) how EPA manages competition for discretionary grants, (2) how much in discretionary grants EPA provided from fiscal years 2013 through 2015 and to what types of grantees, and (3) the information EPA makes publicly available on discretionary grants. GAO reviewed EPA’s competition policy and guidance, examined internal evaluations of grant applications for competitions that were selected partly because they accounted for large portions of discretionary grant dollars, analyzed EPA data as well as information EPA made available on public websites, and interviewed EPA officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that EPA develop clear guidance for tracking grants and determine how to make more complete information on discretionary grants publicly available. EPA agreed with GAO’s recommendations.