By Corinne Murdock |
Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) may oversee up to $4.6 billion in federal funding to implement emissions reduction plans.
The billions cover the second of two phases required by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Climate Pollution Reduction Grant (CPRG) Program. That phase concerns implementation grants for greenhouse gas emissions reduction policies, programs, and projects. The preceding phase covers planning grants for the development of regional climate plans.
For phase one, the EPA gave Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) a $1 million CPRG Program grant to serve as the lead planning organization for the Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler metropolitan statistical area. This grant requires MAG to develop a priority climate action plan due next March, comprehensive climate action plan due in 2025, and a status report due in 2027 after the four-year grant period expires.
MAG accepted the $1 million during a meeting on Wednesday, amending their 2024-2025 Biennial Planning Work Program and Budget to do so.
The priority climate action plan is a prerequisite for the $4.6 billion implementation grant. As part of this plan, MAG must issue a benefits analysis for how their plan produces the most significant benefits to low-income and disadvantaged communities, which the Biden administration refers to collectively as “LIDAC.”
The EPA emphasized arranging all three CPRG plans around LIDACs. Tribes and territories won’t be required to include special LIDAC provisions in their plans.
The EPA guidance on LIDACs explained that the equity lens for the CPRG funding constitutes a greater pledge by the Biden administration per the Justice40 Initiative to issue 40 percent of federal investments to those marginalized, underserved, or overburdened by pollution.
LIDACs are determined by federally defined burdens concerning climate change, energy, health, housing, legacy pollution, transportation, water and wastewater, workforce development, low median income, and poverty. The agency recommended the use of the Biden administration’s Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST).
The billions for energy and climate initiatives may address something advocated for greatly by Democratic leaders like Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-03): extreme heat and urban heat island effects. The EPA cited both on page 8 of their LIDAC guidance.
Public comment during Wednesday’s meeting largely represented opposition to the federal funding to implement net zero goals. Members of the public warned that such climate agendas would result in energy poverty tantamount to shortages and scarcity experienced in third-world countries.
Last year, China permitted coal burning plants at the rate of two new plants every week. High costs with lower supply, as seen in Germany, which resulted in an energy crisis last winter that plummeted the population into the freezing winter temps.
Members of the public also expressed concerns over the financial impact on taxpayers, citing woes faced by the taxpayers of neighboring California. Despite all public comments expressing opposition during the meeting, MAG approved the EPA funding as one part of its consent agenda.
The EPA received $5 billion for the CPRG Program through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA): $250 million for noncompetitive planning grants, and $4.6 billion for competitive implementation grants.
The White House issued a comprehensive, searchable guidebook on the IRA funding for “clean” energy and climate change initiatives. IRA funding to reorient the economy for “clean” energy totals around $369 billion.
Of the planning grants, states received $156 million, local governments received $67 million, tribes received $25 million, and territories received $2 million.