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EPA Awards Half a Million Dollars to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Pollution in Central New York

Release Date: 06/14/2010
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(Syracuse, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided a half million dollar grant to the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board to fund a project designed to reduce greenhouse gas pollution in Central New York, including Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego Counties. During each of the next three years, the planning board will select three communities within Central New York to participate in its project, called the Central New York Climate Change Innovation program. The winning local communities will receive sub-grants from the Central New York Planning and Development Board to develop plans to retrofit vehicles, buildings and other equipment to make them energy efficient; introduce alternative-fuel vehicles and fueling systems; reduce the miles their fleets travel; and conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. They will also consider how their city planning and land use policies can become more sustainable. Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board’s greenhouse gas reduction program is one of only twenty-five projects in the entire nation to receive funding as part of EPA’s $10 million competitive grant Climate Showcase Communities program.

“Climate change is one of the most serious economic and environmental problems facing our nation,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “Actions to reduce greenhouse gas pollution that shift us toward a more sustainable, clean energy future often begin in our local communities. The Central New York Climate Change Innovation program is part of a national initiative, designed to boost community actions to reduce GHG pollution. This kind of innovative program will reduce air pollution, save consumers money, create new jobs and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Central New York has been a leader in environmental innovation. This grant will build on the region’s commitment to environmental sustainability and bring it to a new level of accomplishment.”

“I am very pleased to have this opportunity to partner with the EPA on the implementation of this innovative program in Central New York,” said David Bottar, Executive Director of the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board. “These federal funds will provide us with the resources needed to expand the reach of services offered through our environmental and energy conservation programs at a time when communities across Central New York have expressed a strong desire to reduce their carbon footprint and help address the nation’s challenge of achieving a sustainable future,”

Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. In the U.S., energy-related activities account for three-quarters of our human-generated greenhouse gas emissions, mostly in the form of carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels. The Central New York Climate Change Innovation program will improve the quality of life of Central New York’s 782,000 residents by reducing GHG by 2,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, a metric for determining GHG emission rates for any combination of the principal greenhouse gases, and by achieving energy savings of 36,000 megawatt-hours.

The national EPA Climate Showcase Communities program helps local governments establish and manage initiatives that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to selecting the sub-grant winners, the regional planning and development board will provide technical assistance through education programs and outreach to local government staff. The program is specifically designed to help the underserved by giving priority to support at least one community that suffers a disproportionate environmental impact, and one small-sized community with a population under 10,000.

Communities that are selected will be required to develop a climate protection plan, apply for technical assistance through programs offered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and receive training on no-cost evaluation tools such as ENERGYSTAR’s Portfolio Manager. The program will encourage these governments to adopt community planning controls to reduce GHG pollution from local residents, businesses, and institutions. Another important component will be the creation of a Municipal Energy Planning Guide to highlight case studies of projects funded through the sub-grants.

The program’s model of coupling financial incentives and technical assistance with a focus on land-use planning and public education will provide opportunities for replication in other regions. Additionally, the project will leverage existing state sources of funding to achieve greenhouse gas reductions. Over the course of the grant program, EPA will offer training and technical support to grant recipients, and share effective strategies with communities across the nation.

An additional $10 million in funding for this program nationwide is now available. Proposals are due by July 26, 2010. A list of current Climate Change Showcase Communities and profiles of each recipient is available at: http://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate/local/showcase

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