EPA awards $4 million for new air monitoring in Pennsylvania

Funding came partly from federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)

Clairton Coke Works

Reid Frazier reports on November 4, 2022 in StateImpact Pennsylvania: EPA awards $4 million for new air monitoring in Pa. environmental justice areas

The grants will pay for 11 projects around the state, totaling $4.27 million. Monitors will be set up around industrial sources and transportation corridors in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Allentown. They will also pay for air monitoring near shale gas development in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Reid Frazier | StateImpact Pennsylvania

A cluster of shale gas processing facilities have metastasized near the Burgettstown school campus in Smith Township, southwest of PIT International Airport. Smith Township, in northern Washington County, is one of the areas where air monitoring will be performed. Photo: MARCELLUS AIR

“Hopefully, we’ll get that data,” Ms. Lodge said. She is one of the project managers on a $430,000 grant awarded to Johnstown-based nonprofit FracTracker Alliance to install air monitors in 12 locations in Smith Township, where a two gas processing plants, two large natural gas compressor stations and a well pad are packed into a area of less than half a square mile, and neighboring Robinson Township where Ms. Lodge lives. Over the course of a year, the monitors will track four hazardous air pollutants: benzene, ethyl benzene, toluene and xylene, chemicals associated with oil and gas development and processing and known to be hazardous to health at sufficient concentrations. Source

“Funding for these projects will finally give communities, some who for years have been overburdened by polluted air and other environmental insults, the data and information needed to better understand their local air quality and have a voice for real change.”

EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator – Adam Ortiz
Some of the projects include:
  • A total of $925,000 will go to FracTracker, for air monitoring projects near shale gas sites in the Upper Ohio River valley in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, and “to better assess emissions from the increased shale gas industrial buildout and use that data to educate local community members, elected officials and regulators on the need for a cumulative impact analysis requirement as part of all permitting procedures.”
  • $499,000 for the Group Against Smog and Pollution to “expand community-owned air monitoring networks” in the Monongahela River valley near Pittsburgh
  • $392,000 for the city of Philadelphia, to monitor air quality in environmental justice sites near major emitters
  • $377,000 to monitor air quality for environmental justice communities along the waterfront in Delaware County, Pa.
  • $366,000 will go to ProtectPT for air monitoring in environmental justice communities in Southwest Pa.
  • $500,00 for a group, including Lehigh University, to monitor air pollution in Allentown.
  • Near Philadelphia, Community Housing and Empowerment Connections Inc. received $357,852 for monitors in New Castle County, Delaware.
  • A full list of projects can be found here.

“The money is geared to providing capacity in communities so that they can get monitors to understand what’s happening to their air quality and then be able to be part of a community dialog around environmental justice to hold polluters accountable.”

executive director of the Breathe Project – Matthew Mehalik

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