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In The Works

In the Works

Volume 20, Issues 8 – 9, August and September 2019

NATIONAL

EPA Announces $15 Million in Grant Funding to Benefit Rural and Small Water Systems

WASHINGTON- Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of $15 million in funding for technical assistance and training providers to improve the water quality of small and private water systems that are often located in rural communities across the United States. Ensuring everyone has access to clean and safe water, no matter the size of the water system, is a top priority for EPA.

“Small water systems, especially those in rural communities, face unique challenges, and the Trump Administration is helping them address these challenges and provide clean, safe drinking water for their residents,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These grants will help ensure that smaller water systems have the knowledge, training and technical assistance needed so they can continue to provide clean drinking water and safeguard public health.

Funding will be used by nonprofit organizations to provide small public drinking water and wastewater systems with training and technical assistance to achieve and maintain compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act, improve operational performance and help inform private drinking water well owners about protecting their drinking water supply. Small water systems often face unique financial and operational challenges including aging infrastructure, workforce shortages, increasing costs and declining rate bases. EPA is committed to helping these systems protect public health and provide reliable drinking water and wastewater services that meet federal and state regulations.

Eligible applicants for this competitive agreement are nonprofit organizations and intertribal consortia that are incorporated as nonprofits. The application period for these competitive grants is now open. Questions about applying for EPA funding for training and technical assistance must be received by November 4, 2019, and applications must be received by November 14, 2019. EPA expects to award these cooperative agreements by Spring 2020 and encourages all eligible organizations who have an interest in these projects to apply.

CONNECTICUT

Connecticut Updates Rules for Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to Drive Down Emissions

The Connecticut General Assembly’s Legislative Regulation Review Committee (LRRC) has unanimously approved updates to carbon dioxide emissions regulations that strengthen the state’s commitment to a zero-carbon grid by 2040.

The regulations, proposed by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in coordination with other states who are part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), make a number of improvements including an additional 30 percent regional CO2 emissions cap between 2020 and 2030.

RGGI is the nation’s first market-based regulatory program to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector. Under the program, power plants must purchase allowances to emit CO2 in a multi-state auction. The number of allowances is reduced over time, decreasing emissions in the region, and proceeds from the sale of the allowances go to fund energy efficiency and clean energy initiatives.

“The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has been successfully driving down carbon emissions and driving up investment in renewables and efficiency across the Northeast,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. “We applaud the Legislative Regulation Review Committee for taking action during Climate Week to enable Connecticut to join our sister states in committing to an additional 30 percent emissions reduction through this program.”

Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont have all updated their regulations to reflect the program changes. New York, Maine, and New Hampshire are still in the process to follow suit.

In December of 2017, the participating states concluded an intensive review of the RGGI program and released an updated Model Rule (2017 Model Rule). The 2017 Model Rule adopted improvements that will ensure RGGI’s continued success and cost-effectively reduce CO2 emissions while providing benefits to consumers and the region.

Connecticut’s sale of allowances through the 45 quarterly auctions held since the first auction in September 2008 has generated more than $218 million in proceeds. Currently, Connecticut invests proceeds in supporting the energy efficiency programs and advancing the development of Class I renewable energy sources via the Connecticut Green Bank.

EPA Grants in Connecticut Will Reduce Air Pollution from Diesel Vehicles

STAMFORD, Conn. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced the agency’s award of a $546,610 grant to the City of Stamford, Connecticut that will help the city replace seven diesel-powered garbage trucks with new trucks that meet 2019 EPA emissions standards. This grant was made available under a competitive national grant program administered by EPA with funding authorized by Congress under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA).

In addition to the DERA competitive program, EPA has allocated, under the DERA State Clean Diesel Grant Program, $479,775 to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CTDEEP) for diesel emissions reduction efforts. CTDEEP will award these funds to various communities to fund diesel vehicle replacement projects, similar to the one in Stamford.

“These grants mean cleaner air for communities across Connecticut through pollution reductions from vehicles like the City of Stamford’s municipal fleet of garbage trucks,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. “It’s a priority for EPA to help our municipal partners realize cleaner air in their communities and these diesel grants have lasting pollution reductions that will make a difference for many years.”

“The transportation sector contributes nearly 40% of greenhouse gas emissions statewide and nearly two-thirds of the emissions that cause smog, a leading cause of significant health issues including asthma and other respiratory disease. Reducing these kinds of emissions is necessary to meet and exceed stringent federal requirements on air quality and ensure the health and safety of Connecticut’s families,” said Connecticut DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. “This grant helps Stamford and communities across the state upgrade diesel-fuel fleets with cleaner burning vehicles and that’s one more step toward helping us meet our commitment to a healthier, cleaner environment in Connecticut.”

Older diesel engines emit large amounts of pollutants including nitrogen oxide (NOx) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which contribute to serious public health problems, including asthma, lung cancer and various other cardiac and respiratory diseases. DERA grants have funded projects that provided immediate health and environmental benefits. From fiscal years 2008 to 2016, EPA has awarded more than $629 million to retrofit or replace more than 67,300 engines in vehicles, vessels, locomotives or other pieces of equipment. EPA estimates that these projects will reduce emissions by 472,700 tons of NOx and 15,490 tons of PM2.5 over the lifetime of the affected engines.

Since the start of the DERA program in 2008, EPA has provided more than $2.8 million to fund projects across the state of Connecticut.

DERA grant awards will cover between 25% to 45% of project costs, depending on type of technology funded. Grant recipients are required to provide a cost-share to cover remaining costs needed to complete the projects. EPA is providing approximately $40 million in competitive grant funds awarded nationwide for clean diesel projects in 2019.

MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts Goldberg Announces Over $21.5 Million in Grants for 31 Municipal Water Projects

Funds will help cities and towns pay for improvements to drinking water and wastewater infrastructure

Boston — State Treasurer Deb Goldberg, Chair of the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust (Trust), recently announced more than $21.5 million in loan forgiveness for 31 projects in 20 communities across the Commonwealth. The loan forgiveness funds are administered on a competitive basis to cities, towns and water districts most in need of financial assistance to help pay for improvements to drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

“Providing these funds to local communities will protect the health of our citizens, create a cleaner environment and provide savings for the ratepayers,” said Treasurer and Receiver General Deborah B. Goldberg. “This $21.5 million is another example of the excellent work the Trust does to save money for our local communities.”

The Trust improves the water quality in the Commonwealth through the provision of low-cost capital financing to cities, towns and other eligible entities. Because of the reduction of loan principal funded by this program, impacted communities will see their bi-annual loan repayments reduced, freeing up capital for other local needs. The loans were originated to pay for municipal water projects such as upgrades to water treatment facilities, stormwater and nutrient mitigation and sewer improvement projects.

“Our Administration is proud to partner once again with Treasurer Goldberg and the Clean Water Trust to support these important investments in local water and wastewater infrastructure projects, as part of a strong partnership with the Commonwealth’s cities and towns,” said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan. “These investments have critical financial and environmental benefits that make them a sound investment of state capital dollars.”

The communities that earned loan forgiveness are: Adams Fire District, Barnstable, Brockton, Dartmouth, Fall River, Gloucester, Goshen, Harwich, Haverhill, Hull, Lawrence, Lowell, Norton, Pepperell, Pittsfield, Revere, Southampton, Spencer, Springfield Water & Sewer Commission, and Taunton.

“Communities face significant challenges trying to maintain and operate their drinking water and wastewater infrastructure,” said Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), which is the Trust’s partner in administering the Massachusetts State Revolving Funds. “The Baker-Polito Administration is pleased to work with the Treasurer and the Clean Water Trust to support additional financial assistance for improving this infrastructure, reducing operating costs and protecting the health of local residents.”

The $21.5 million in loan forgiveness funds is associated with a total original loan amount of more than $326 million. The Trust lends financial assistance to communities in the Commonwealth under the State Revolving Fund program which offers subsidized loans to cities, towns, and water utilities to help protect and improve their water infrastructure.

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