|Nebraska among the quickest states to pursue new EPA Climate Pollution Reduction Grants
LINCOLN, Neb. — On March 1, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the first phase of its new $5 billion Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) Program, which is among the first of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) grant programs to be administered by EPA. The CPRG Program will award funds to state and local governments to develop and implement climate action plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) was quick to recognize the benefits and opportunities this grant represents for Nebraska and its agricultural economy. On March 10, 2023, NDEE Director Jim Macy sent official Notice of Intent to Participate (NOIP) to the EPA, and NDEE has been designated as the lead agency to coordinate the state’s pursuit of this grant.
“The department’s pursuit of this grant is a common-sense approach to furthering NDEE’s commitment to protect the environment, serve the people of Nebraska, and support the ag industry.” Macy said.
Prompt submittal of the NOIP made Nebraska one of the first eight states (Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington) across the nation to pursue this grant.
States that apply for the planning grants will receive $3 million to develop three deliverables to the EPA: a Priority Climate Action Plan (PCAP) will be due March 1, 2024; a Comprehensive Climate Action Plan (CCAP) is required to be submitted two years from the date of the planning grant award; and a status report will be required at the close of the four-year grant period in 2027.
Preliminary initiatives of NDEE’s climate action plan include:
· Expanding climate-resilient agriculture - Incentivize beneficial practices and assist in implementation, including increased access to technologies, equipment, and seed and plant material. Once the grant is secured, NDEE will work collaboratively with stakeholders prior to developing a climate action plan that best supports Nebraska agriculture and its interests.
· Adapting the grid - Promote electrical grid and transmission upgrades and research and development to enable greater reliability and renewable energy access and integration.
· Promoting soil health - Encourage soil health research and provide incentives and technical assistance to producers to implement soil health practices that regenerate soils, sequester carbon, and support the financial stability of Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers.
· Encouraging innovation - Nurture new technologies and clean, efficient practices. Promotion of research on cellulosic biofuels (biofuel production from crop waste and municipal solid waste) and agricultural practices that store carbon in soils is an example of one such practice.