Allentown Morning Call: ‘More than we could have ever dreamed of’: Almost left out, Lehigh Valley gets a big financial boost to fight climate change

Pennsylvania this month opted into the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants program, part of the federal Inflation Reduction Act, which provides funding to state and local governments to develop climate action plans and makes them eligible for grants from the $4.6 billion pool established by the act and administered by the Environmental Protection Agency.

LVPC Executive Director Becky Bradley said the money will be used to complete work on the Regional Climate Action Plan. Items in the plan include a regional green infrastructure program supporting clean water, flood mitigation, installation of air quality monitoring systems, electric vehicle charging stations, as well as advancing walking and biking.

“We’ll be able to do a lot more work than we could have ever dreamed of related to climate action,” Bradley said. The specific plan for the funding will have to be completed by April 28.

Initially, the LVPC wasn’t even eligible for this program. Bradley said some slots opened up when four states decided not to participate. The Lehigh Valley had just missed the initial cut because the top 67 metropolitan areas were initially included and the Valley is the 69th largest. The LVPC applied for funding on the chance it could move up.

Bradley didn’t know LVPC moved into eligibility until last week, and she had to hustle to Harrisburg for Friday’s announcement. It was accomplished, she said, through advocacy and luck.

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission are also receiving $1 million, while the state will receive a $3 million planning grant through the program.

“Greater Philadelphia is committed to attaining net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and preparing our communities for the impacts of climate change,” Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Ariella Maron said in a statement. “The Climate Pollution Reduction Grant will enable us to develop a plan that will guide future policy and investment decisions that are both equitable and sustainable. DVRPC is proud to lead this planning effort for our region.”

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