GRANT PROGRAM HELPS LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FIGHT GLOBAL WARMING
(09/P15) TRENTON - The Department of Environmental Protection has launched a new grant program to help local government agencies and schools identify and implement plans to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in their communities, marking a milestone in the Garden State’s fight against climate change.
“For the first time, local governments have an opportunity to apply for state grants that will directly help them develop solutions to climate change,” DEP Acting Commissioner Mark N. Mauriello said. “This program builds upon the good work that is already taking place in many communities to address global warming, and reminds all of us to think globally and act locally on this critical issue.”
The DEP is now accepting pre-applications from municipal and county governments, public school districts, county colleges and other local government agencies such as municipal utilities authorities for $2.5 million available in the first round of funding under the Local Government Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant program. The program is funded by a portion of the proceeds from the auction of carbon dioxide allowances through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’s cap-and-trade program that is working to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in the Northeast and Middle Atlantic regions.
The deadline for pre-applications is July 31. The DEP expects applicants to demonstrate that proposed projects will result in measurable reductions of greenhouse gases. The DEP’s Office of Planning and Sustainable Communities will contact government agencies that qualify to submit a full application.
Eligible projects may include those that help local government agencies calculate and reduce their carbon footprints as well as land-use and transportation planning efforts that reduce the need to drive. Vehicle exhaust contributes a significant portion of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The DEP will also consider projects that spur development of green infrastructure such as green buildings or rooftop gardens, programs that foster resource conservation such as better management of trees, efforts to strengthen local economies through marketing of locally grown food, and outreach programs that promote public involvement in sustainability efforts.
“This grant program fits in perfectly with the sustainability movement that is sweeping across New Jersey,” Commissioner Mauriello said. “This movement, essentially old-fashioned environmentalism adapted to today’s complex issues such as global warming, recognizes that we must conserve our energy, water, land and other resources for future generations.”
Local governments that have joined the Sustainable Jersey partnership will be given priority for greenhouse gas reduction grants. This partnership involving the DEP, New Jersey State League of Municipalities, Rutgers University and The College of New Jersey promotes sustainability projects and greenhouse-gas reduction initiatives. Priority will also be given projects that promote pilot transportation initiatives, such as infrastructure that supports electric or alternative-fuel vehicles.
Governor Corzine has been a national leader on climate change, signing an executive order that led to passage of the state’s Global Warming Response Act. The law calls for New Jersey’s greenhouse gas emissions to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020, followed by a further reduction of 80 percent below 2006 levels by 2050.
The state’s Global Warming Solutions Act allows the state to use proceeds from the carbon-dioxide allowance auctions to fund programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. New Jersey’s first auctions have generated $32 million.
More than $25 million has been allocated to the state’s Economic Development Authority and Board of Public Utilities for clean energy development, energy-efficiency projects and as assistance for low- and moderate-income energy customers.
The DEP received more than $6 million from the auction proceeds for environmental projects, including the local grant program and programs to protect forests and tidal marshes, ecosystems that capture carbon dioxide. For information on the grant program and a downloadable copy of the pre-application, go to: http://www.nj.gov/dep/opsc/