EPA Seeks Feedback on Inflation Reduction Act Programs

November 7, 2022

The U.S. EPA has announced initial public engagement and input opportunities for a subset of new and existing programs funded by the Inflation Reduction Act. These programs, which include funding for air quality and climate projects addressing clean energy, transportation, methane emissions and climate super-pollutants, will combat the climate crisis, protect public health and advance environmental justice. 

The EPA’s engagement strategy for these programs includes:

·     Request for Information (RFI): Issuing a request for public input to inform program design;

·     Expert Input: Soliciting expert input on key program design questions from EPA’s Federal Advisory Committees including the Local Government Advisory Committee, Clean Air Act Advisory Committee and the National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee;

·     Listening Sessions: Launching a stakeholder listening session series to enable key stakeholders including environmental justice communities, state and local governments, clean energy advocates, labor and others to provide input directly to EPA staff; and

·     New Webpage: Creating a one-stop shop for information on the implementation of Inflation Reduction Act programs managed by EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.

The EPA has published a Request for Information (RFI) seeking public comment on core design aspects of multiple Inflation Reduction Act programs, a crucial first step as the Agency works to implement historic levels of funding from this legislation. These initial engagements will help ensure the design and implementation of the programs reflect input from a broad coalition of stakeholders to ensure the full economic and environmental benefits of this historic investment are realized by all people, particularly those who have been most burdened by environmental, social and economic injustice.

The RFI provides background information and questions for the public to consider as they provide their input. EPA will gather and organize information received on the RFI in six public dockets that correspond to Inflation Reduction Act provisions in the law. Comments are due by January 18, 2023. In addition, the agency will conduct extensive public engagement as it works to implement the law.

Public Encouraged to Review and Comment in Six Public Dockets

Docket 1: Climate Pollution Reduction Grants

The EPA received $5 billion to assist states, air pollution control agencies, Tribes and local governments to develop and implement strong climate pollution reduction strategies. These eligible entities can apply for planning grants and then apply for grants to implement those plans.

Docket 2: Transportation Programs

The EPA received $4 billion for two new programs to reduce emissions from the transportations sector. The first program is the Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicle program that will invest $1 billion to help cover the costs of replacing dirty heavy-duty vehicles with clean alternatives, deploy supporting infrastructure, and/or train and develop the necessary workforce. At least $400 million must go to areas not meeting national air quality health standards. The application is open to states, municipalities, Indian tribes, nonprofit school transportation associations, and eligible contractors.

The second program will provide $3 billion in grants to reduce air pollution at ports with at least $750 million going to areas not meeting air quality standards. These funds can be used for a range of activities including purchasing and installing zero-emission port equipment and technology, covering the associated costs of planning and permitting, and developing qualified climate action plans. Eligible entities include port authorities; any state, regional, local, or tribal agency with jurisdiction over a port authority; air pollution control agencies; and non-profits and private entities partnering with the above and own, operate, or use port facilities. 

Docket 3: Methane Emissions Reduction Program

The EPA received $1.55 billion to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by providing financial assistance (grants, rebates, contracts, loans, and other activities) and technical assistance as well as implementing a statutorily required waste emissions charge. Eligible recipients for these funds include, but are not limited to, air pollution control agencies, other public or nonprofit private agencies, institutions, organizations, and individuals. The program specifies that at least $700 million must be used for activities at marginal conventional wells. Section 60113 also requires EPA to implement a waste emission charge on methane emitted from applicable oil and gas facilities that emit over 25,000 metric tons of CO2e and that exceed statutorily specified waste emissions thresholds beginning in 2024. The waste emissions charge will start at $900 and increase to $1,500 per metric ton.

Docket 4: Funding to Address Air Pollution

The EPA received over $300 million in funding to support the agency’s air quality mission by investing in a range of activities that will increase monitoring in and by communities, expand and strengthen national monitoring methods, improve monitoring methods and capacity, make monitoring data more available and useful for communities, and improve air quality in our nation’s schools. Six of these programs are authorized under Section 60105. This section establishes a wide range of eligible applicants that includes individuals, state, local and Tribal Air pollution control agencies, and other public or nonprofit private agencies, institutions, and organizations EPA also received $50 million in Section 60106 to address air pollution at schools with $12.5 million dedicated to providing technical assistance and the remainder for grants and other activities to monitor and reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions at schools in low-income and disadvantaged communities. Eligible applicants for this funding include individuals, air pollution control agencies, and other public nonprofit private agencies, institutions and organizations. 

Docket 5: Funding for Implementation of American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act

Funding includes $38.5 million for implementation of the AIM Act to implement the Kigali Agreement on hydrofluorocarbons. Of this funding, $15 million is dedicated towards new competitive grants for reclaim and innovative destruction technologies, $20 million is dedicated to EPA to carry out the AIM Act, and $3.5 million is dedicated to EPA to deploy new implementation and compliance tools for the AIM Act.  

Docket 6: Low Emissions Electricity Program & GHG Corporate Reporting

Low Emissions Electricity Program

Funding includes $87 million to fund a wide range of activities to encourage low emissions electricity generation and use through education, technical assistance, and partnerships with consumers, low income and disadvantaged communities, industry, and state, local and Tribal governments.  

GHG Corporate Reporting

Funding includes $5 million to enhance standardization and transparency of corporate climate action commitments and plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, enhance transparency regarding progress toward meeting such commitments and implementing such plans, and make progress toward meeting such commitments and implementing such plans. 

The RFI and more information on how to comment is available at this website.

Background

In August 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act was passed into law, and the EPA received $41.5 billion in appropriations to develop and support 24 new and existing programs that monitor and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, protect health and advance environmental justice. This RFI seeks public input on a significant portion of this total, and the agency will use the information received to guide the next steps to deliver these resources to where they can do the most good for communities across the country.

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source: U.S. EPA State and Local Climate and Energy Program email newsletter