October 3, 2022
Increased Funding Supports Fenceline Monitoring Near Environmental Justice Communities
Topics: Environmental Justice, Fenceline Air Monitoring, Air Quality and Emissions, Industrial Emissions Impacts
Recent funding for community and fenceline air monitoring presents significant opportunity to better understand and mitigate industrial emissions impacts on neighboring communities, especially within environmental justice communities.
With the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, community and fenceline air monitoring will see a significant increase in funding, especially within environmental justice communities. United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) will be provided with $117.5 million for fenceline and community monitoring efforts through 2031, with another $3 million to be allocated to installing air quality sensors in low income and disadvantaged communities. In addition, Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grants will provide $3 billion in potential funding for fenceline and community monitoring projects put forward by local governments and community-based non-profits through 2026.
This funding builds on US EPA’s growing focus on using fenceline and community monitoring to better understand and mitigate industrial emissions impacts on neighboring communities. Initial passage of US EPA’s Refinery Rule in 2015 instituted benzene fenceline monitoring requirements for petroleum refineries. Subsequent state actions (California AB1647, Colorado HB21-1189) and US EPA settlement agreements have gradually expanded this practice to other pollutants and industries. The new funding of the Inflation Reduction Act can be expected to greatly expand the collection and availability of monitoring data, with an increase in the number of monitoring networks designed and run by government and nonprofit groups.
Understanding the relative contribution of different sources of air emissions and assessing cumulative impacts from chemical and nonchemical stressors will be important.
Expanded fenceline monitoring represents a significant opportunity to better understand and control emissions. Fugitive sources, leaks, and accidental releases can be better quantified and mitigated, allowing facilities the opportunity to rectify short-term problems before they represent long-term risks to the community. However, the public availability of this data comes with challenges in effective risk evaluation, community engagement, and risk communication, particularly in the context of understanding the relative contribution of different sources of air emissions and assessing cumulative impacts from chemical and nonchemical stressors.
Gradient is positioned to assist clients at this intersection of industrial activity, government policy, and community engagement. Our scientists are at the forefront of air quality, air emissions, and risk assessment, and excel at interpreting and communicating the meaning of complex data to community and government agencies. If you have questions about how expanded fenceline monitoring may impact your industry, please contact Gradient.