Earlier this week, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection awarded more than $1.5 million dollars in pollution-reducing grants to companies and organizations across the state.
From the 27 applicants for a grant, 14 were selected and together they’ll help remove more than 82 tons of smog-forming emissions over the lifetime of the projects. This is a really exciting step in the right direction.
"It's such a win-win for our state, for our kids, and also for our economy because these are all these businesses that have applied, they're real innovators,” Katie Dykes, Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said. “They're showing that they're making a difference in serving their customers but also helping to clean up our air."
Connecticut has exceptionally high rates of respiratory illness. The state is among the top 100 asthma capitals in the country.
By awarding these grants, not only will we be able to remove smog-forming emissions, but the projects will also remove over 3,900 tons of climate-warming carbon dioxide as well as tons of volatile organic compounds and fine particulate matter, which contribute to asthma and other bronchial conditions.
"We have been leaders on addressing the climate crisis and also air pollution in our communities for some time,” Dykes said. “And I am really excited about how the pace of that work is really picking up."
Currently, transportation accounts for 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in our state and is also responsible for producing 67% of the air pollution that we breath.
But many of these grants will allow for more efficient diesel vehicles or electric vehicles that will help reduce pollution. Like the grant awarded to the Area Cooperative Educational Services.
“The money' going to go towards the purchase of a Blue Bird electric school bus,” Rosemarie Arma, the director of Transportation Service for ACES, said. “This hopefully will be the first step into transitioning into a full fleet of electric vehicles.”
And the Town of Windsor will be able to upgrade its current large area mower to a much more fuel-efficient mower that will also lower exhaust emissions.
“We’re always looking for options to improve,” Michael Giacomazzi, the Parks Crew Leader for the Town of Windsor, said. “We have electric chainsaws, we’re upgrading this mower, so we’re trying to continuously improve the fleet and the impact on the environment.”
So where did the grant money come from? It’s funded by the EPA and DEEP administers the program at the local level.
"What excites me is the possibility of what we could do if we had even more money,” Dykes said. “And the number of clean vehicles and electric vehicles, trucks, buses, we could put on the road if we can make these kinds of investments at a larger scale."
Last December, Gov. Ned Lamont signed on to an agreement with governors from surrounding states to advance the transportation climate initiative program and is hoping to get authorization from the General Assembly this spring to implement the program.