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EPA Provides Half a Million Dollars to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Pollution in Southern New Jersey

Release Date: 03/30/2010
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez (212) 637-3664, rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(Cherry Hill, N.J.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded a half million dollar grant to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Cherry Hill, Highland Park, and Montclair, N.J. The grant was provided to the township of Cherry Hill, as the formal applicant, under the Climate Showcase Communities program, which is designed to help local governments establish and implement initiatives that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The money will launch an initiative called the New Jersey Sustainable Energy Efficiency Demonstration (SEED) project, which is a partnership that includes the three communities, the New Jersey state Board of Public Utilities and the Municipal Land Use Center at the College of New Jersey. The Cherry Hill project was one of 25 projects nationwide to receive grants as part of the $10 million competitive grant program.

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.

“Global warming is one of the most serious economic and environmental problems facing our nation. Actions to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and move toward a sustainable, clean energy future begin in our communities,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The New Jersey SEED program is part of a national showcase of community actions to address climate change. Effective programs such as the one in southern New Jersey will reduce air pollution, save consumer dollars, promote innovation, create new jobs and put New Jersey on the path to a clean energy economy,” said Judith Enck.

“The essence of this federal initiative is that local governments are uniquely suited to implement job-generating programs, projects and outreach plans that will reduce energy consumption and improve alternative transit options,” said Cherry Hill Mayor Bernie Platt. “I firmly believe, as do our Climate Showcase municipal partners, New Jersey legislators and other public officials who supported the Township’s application for this innovative offering from the EPA, that the shift toward sustainability we must make as a global community must start in our local communities. Together, we are going to build an effective state model for engaging communities in the shift toward a sustainable future.”

“Within the Borough of Highland Park, we believe that good environmental stewardship is one of the best ways we can protect our air, water, land and health,” said Mayor Stephen B. Nolan. “This partnership is further evidence of our commitment to a sustainable future. Highland Park hopes to demonstrate that small communities can successfully address issues of sustainability.”

“As a NJ Clean Energy Leader and one of the charter Sustainable Jersey communities, we are pleased to be able to use this state and federal support to implement measures that will save money by reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions for our residents, small businesses, and our local government,” stated Montclair Mayor Jerry Fried. “We think this project could be a model for other towns and cities around the state and across the country.”

The three communities have already demonstrated leadership in the area of sustainability and are good candidates to demonstrate green capacity building in municipalities of similar sizes. The communities in this project have populations of 75,000 (Cherry Hill), 16,000 (Highland Park) and 38,000 (Montclair). Using the grant money, the partners will demonstrate that aggressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are possible in small and medium-sized municipalities. Possible actions are enrollment of community members and local businesses in state and federal energy-efficiency programs, efficiency retrofits of municipal buildings, updates to local codes and policies and utilizing more energy efficient vehicles in municipal fleets.

The New Jersey SEED program will also establish a protocol for leadership in small and medium-sized municipalities through state and federal support, and share information on measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a larger audience among residents and businesses.

The project will set aggressive greenhouse gas reduction targets and publicly report on each community’s progress. After one year, the project team will assess implementation efforts. Based on data gathered from project partners, changes will be identified and implemented to improve the program. Finally, the project partners will share lessons on the program through a state-wide workshop and regional workshops. The work will be integrated into New Jersey’s Sustainable Jersey certification program, a voluntary state program for municipalities that want to adopt sustainable policies and achieve cost savings.

Climate Showcase Communities grants are designed to assist local and tribal governments to identify, implement, and track policies and programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions within their operations and surrounding communities. Over the course of the grant program, EPA will offer training and technical support to grant recipients, and share lessons learned with communities across the nation.

A list of the Climate Change Showcase Communities and profiles of each recipient is available at: http://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate/local/showcase

An additional $10 million in funding for this program will become available in late Spring 2010. To receive notification when this funding is available, please sign up on the EPA listserv at: http://www.epa.gov/statelocalclimate/listservs/index.html

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