The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released new details about the design of the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), a first-of-its-kind, national-scale competitive grant program created by the President’s Inflation Reduction Act. This program, part of the Investing in America agenda, will leverage public investment with private capital and finance clean energy projects that reduce pollution and energy costs, increase energy security, and create good-paying jobs, especially in low-income and disadvantaged communities and places that have historically shouldered the burden of harmful pollution. The GGRF will catalyze investment in thousands of clean energy projects, build the capacity of community lenders to drive local economic growth, and deploy cost-saving solar energy on rooftops and in communities across the country.
The release of the GGRF implementation framework comes as the EPA marks Earth Week and the unprecedented investments in protecting the planet and American families and communities as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.
This implementation framework follows the initial guidance EPA released earlier this year and outlines a clear vision for the three grant competitions EPA will administer under the GGRF program, including preliminary descriptions of key parameters, application requirements, and reporting obligations.
The release of this framework builds on months of robust stakeholder engagement efforts with input collected from state, local, and Tribal governments; community lenders; environmental justice organizations; industry groups; labor; and environmental finance experts across the country.
The implementation framework is intended to provide continued transparency and respond to stakeholder requests for additional information on EPA’s anticipated program design and application requirements in advance of the Notices of Funding Opportunity that will formally kick off the application process as early as June 2023 and reflect EPA’s final determinations on program priorities and requirements.
EPA will require rigorous transparency, risk management, and accountability measures of grantees under this program to ensure this historic investment is invested efficiently in accordance with the law and for the maximum benefit of American families.
Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Grant Competitions
EPA will hold three complementary competitions to strategically distribute grant funding under the $27 billion GGRF program. While each competition will be administered separately, EPA expects that these competitions will work in tandem to deliver tangible benefits including lower energy costs, good-paying jobs and improved public health outcomes to households, businesses, and communities. The three competitions will be:
The $14 billion National Clean Investment Fund competition will fund two to three national nonprofits that will partner with private capital providers to deliver financing at scale to businesses, communities, community lenders, and others, catalyzing tens of thousands of clean technology projects to accelerate our progress towards energy independence and a net-zero economic future.
The $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator competition will fund two to seven hub nonprofits with the plans and capabilities to rapidly build the clean financing capacity of specific networks of public, quasi-public and non-profit community lenders—including community development financial institutions (including Native CDFIs), credit unions, green banks, housing finance agencies, and minority depository institutions—to ensure that households, small businesses, schools, and community institutions in low-income and disadvantaged communities have access to financing for cost-saving and pollution-reducing clean technology projects.
The $7 billion Solar for All competition will provide up to 60 grants to States, Tribal governments, municipalities, and nonprofits to expand the number of low-income and disadvantaged communities that are primed for residential and community solar investment—enabling millions of families to access affordable, resilient, and clean solar energy.
EPA will implement these programs in alignment with President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to ensure that 40% of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution. EPA expects to open competitions for funding under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund by summer 2023.
This Request for Applications (RFA) solicits applications from eligible entities for up to six cooperative agreements to be awarded pursuant to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan III (GLRI AP III). This RFA is the Great Lakes National Program Office’s (GLNPO’s) major competitive grant funding opportunity for FY-23 and uses funding provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, P.L. 117-58, 2021 (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).
The purpose of the RFA is to help fulfill EPA’s commitment to environmental justice (EJ) by establishing Great Lakes Environmental Justice Grant Programs (GLEJGPs) to be used for issuing and overseeing subawards for environmental restoration projects in underserved Great Lakes communities. Approximately $30 million may be awarded in the form of up to six cooperative agreements. The number of cooperative agreements and total amount awarded is contingent upon funding availability, the quality of applications received, Agency priorities, and other applicable considerations.
The Department of Energy this week announced it will offer $50 million for community-based clean energy projects in rural areas and $26 million for projects “to demonstrate how solar, wind, storage, and other clean energy resources can support a reliable and efficient U.S. power grid.”
The $50 million for projects is being disbursed to increaseenergy affordability and bolster climate resilience in rural or remote areas with fewer than 10,000 people, DOE said in a Thursday news release. Projects qualify if they cost between $500,000 and $5 million, with pre-applications due July 13 and full applications due Oct. 12.
The Department of Commerce has recommended $562 million in funding for nearly 150 projects across 30 states and territories focused on climate change resiliency projects.
Announced on Friday, the awards will be made under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate-Ready Coasts Initiative with funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.
The projects will focus on helping communities that are experiencing increased flooding, storm surge and more frequent extreme weather events, said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo in the press release.
On April 13, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of 17 Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (EJ TCTACs) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy that will receive $177 million to help underserved and overburdened communities across the country access funds from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, including historic investments to advance environmental justice.
Administrator Regan announced the 17 technical assistance centers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America tour in New York City, New York with Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) and WE ACT for Environmental Justice Co-Founder & Executive Director Peggy Shepard, highlighting the President’s historic investments in environmental justice. From day one of his administration, President Biden made achieving environmental justice a top priority. Through the Investing in America agenda, the Biden-Harris Administration will continue to support and strengthen communities that for too long were left out and left behind.
Each of the technical assistance centers will receive at least $10 million to remove barriers and improve accessibility for communities with environmental justice concerns. With this critical investment, these centers will provide training and other assistance to build capacity for navigating federal grant application systems, writing strong grant proposals, and effectively managing grant funding. In addition, these centers will provide guidance on community engagement, meeting facilitation, and translation and interpretation services for limited English-speaking participants, thus removing barriers and improving accessibility for communities with environmental justice concerns. Each of the technical assistance centers will also create and manage communication channels to ensure all communities have direct access to resources and information.
EPA will deliver these resources in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, whose funding allows the EJ TCTACs to provide support for identifying community opportunities for clean energy transition and financing options, including public-private partnerships supporting clean energy demonstration, deployment, workforce development and outreach opportunities that advance energy justice objectives.
The formation of the EJ technical assistance centers is in direct response to feedback from communities and environmental justice leaders who have long called for technical assistance and capacity building support for communities and their partners as they work to access critical federal resources. The 17 centers will provide comprehensive coverage for the entire United States through a network of over 160 partners including community-based organizations, additional academic institutions, and Environmental Finance Centers, so that more communities can access federal funding opportunities like those made available through President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
EPA has selected the following 14 organizations to serve as Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers, along with their partners:
University of Connecticut
West Harlem Environmental Action, Inc.
Inter-American University of Puerto Rico-Metro Campus
National Wildlife Federation
Deep South Center for Environmental Justice
Research Triangle Institute
Blacks in Green
University of Minnesota
New Mexico State University
Wichita State University
University of Arizona
San Diego State University
University of Washington
In addition, EPA has selected three national EJ TCTACs that will provide additional assistance across the country, with particular capacity to assist Tribes, including:
International City/County Management Association
Institute for Sustainable Communities
National Indian Health Board
Additional award information for each selectee will be announced in Summer 2023.
The EJ TCTAC program is part of the Federal Interagency Thriving Communities Network and delivers on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 Initiative to ensure that 40% of the benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities. The new technical assistance centers will help ensure communities with environmental justice concerns can access President Biden’s historic investments in America to address generational disinvestment, legacy pollution, infrastructure challenges, and build a clean energy economy that will lower energy costs, strengthen our energy security, and meet our climate goals.
Community advocates in the coalfields of central Appalachia and other places dependent upon fossil fuel production have long insisted that their towns cannot be left behind by the nation’s switch to renewable energy. The Biden administration has responded to such calls by working to ensure under-resourced communities benefit from this green transition.
To help achieve that, the Inflation Reduction Act includes a 30 percent tax break for wind, solar, and other green energy projects. It provides an additional 10 percent credit for projects in “energy communities” — those long anchored, and polluted, by fossil fuel industries. The tax break is intended for energy developers and manufacturers that might relocate to a community, employ local people, and contribute taxes to the local government.
Last week, the Treasury Department outlined how clean energy companies can secure those credits. For a project to qualify, at least 0.17 percent of the targeted community’s employment or 25 percent of its tax revenue must be related to the extraction, processing, transport, or storage of coal, oil, or natural gas.
Although the program will help cities and towns nationwide, the need is particularly acute in Appalachia, where coal industry jobs fell 54 percent between 2005 and 2020, according to a report by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Along with its guidelines, the Treasury Department released a map indicating in red which U.S. counties might be eligible for these projects. The coalfields of central Appalachia, particularly West Virginia and portions of Virginia and Kentucky, are almost solidly red.
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