$4.8 Million Approved in Local Air Project Funds To Benefit Many

Local communities will soon see a restored alkali meadow in Lone Pine, an electric tractor and new community gardens in Bishop, a PM10 street sweeper in Mammoth, and new snowplows in Alpine County that will help open local roads much faster following winter snows. These are just a few of the projects to be funded across Inyo, Mono and Alpine Counties through the Clean Air Projects Program, a joint effort of the Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

After careful consideration, $4.8 million in CAPP funds provided by the LADWP has been approved to help pay for 22 air quality improvement projects in the Great Basin Air District. As proposed by local applicants, these projects will provide a multitude of benefits throughout the area and beyond.

At their May 24, 2012 meeting in Bridgeport, the Air District’s Governing Board unanimously approved funding for the 22 projects as recommended by the District’s Control Officer, Ted Schade, and the Clean Air Projects Program’s selection panel. About 50 project proposals were originally submitted and reviewed, in total requesting more than three times the available amount. Two additional projects were also previously approved last September.

The funding is designated to pay for clean air projects within the Air District with an emphasis on the Owens Lake region. ‘Clean air projects’ are defined as projects that will or could measurably reduce targeted air pollutants, including smoke, dust, and other harmful airborne compounds currently being emitted within the Air District’s boundaries, encompassing Inyo, Mono and Alpine counties.

“Great Basin is very excited to be working with the LADWP and all the funded applicants on these projects to benefit air quality in Alpine, Mono and Inyo Counties,” said Ted Schade, Great Basin’s Air Pollution Control Officer. “The projects will provide local air quality improvements where people live, work and play in the District,” he continued. “We appreciate the effort all the applicants put into their proposals. It was certainly a difficult decision getting down to 22 projects.”

Weighing in from LADWP’s perspective, Ron Nichols, LADWP General Manager, stated, “We are very pleased that more than $4.8 million of the $6.5 million provided by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has been awarded to 22 different programs to reduce air pollution in Inyo, Mono and Alpine Counties. We felt strongly that the funding should go to programs that directly benefit the communities. We were pleasantly surprised by the level of interest shown in this type of program.”

Throughout the Great Basin Air District, supported projects include 12 that are generally located in Inyo County and its preferred ‘Owens Valley Planning Area,’ four around the Bishop area, two in Mammoth Lakes, one in Bridgeport, two in greater Mono County, and one in Alpine County. Of particular note is the Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action’s approved ‘Home Heating Emissions Reduction Program,’ which will span across and benefit the entire Air District by providing residential weatherization services and heating system upgrades for fireplaces and non-EPA compliant wood stoves.

Several other compelling projects provide immediate dust control through ground cover and paving measures on property surrounding health and educational facilities, athletic fields and visitor centers. Water trucks and a rail-top rodeo area watering system will also provide immediate improvements in local air quality whenever the ground surface is stirred by wind, tires or hooves.

In addition to approved CAPP funds, project proponents are providing more than $850,000 toward their projects through direct cost shares and in-kind materials and activities. “We were really looking for solid projects that had some type of cost sharing element to help us spread our limited funds as far as possible,” explained Lisa Isaacs, CAPP Administrator. “We only wish we could have supported everyone.”

All CAPP project funds are planned to be paid out by the end of 2013. Once in place, however, most of the funded projects will live on for years, continuing to provide benefits for many through ongoing air quality protections.

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