GCC comments to US EPA: Inflation Reduction Act offers opportunity to expand and improve air quality monitoring for overburdened communities

January 26, 2023

A technician monitoring EPA air quality sampling equipment in Louisiana. Credit: U.S. EPA

Community and environmental justice advocates have long called for more air quality monitoring  in their neighborhoods and a growing number of political leaders at the federal, state, and local  levels of government are now taking responsive actions. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), passed last year, provides an infusion of funding to expand community-based air quality monitoring throughout the  country.   In comments submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency last week, Georgetown Climate Center pointed out that expanding air quality monitoring in overburdened communities could be a crucial element to building more transparency and accountability into policy making processes. GCC’s comments were substantially informed by conversations with state agency officials participating in the Air Quality Monitoring Workgroup of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, which GCC convenes and facilitates. 

“Our  conversations with state agency staff and leaders consistently suggest that much more is needed to build the capacity of state and local governments to ensure that air quality monitoring  projects are designed and implemented in ways that meaningfully address community needs,” GCC’s comments assert. In its letter, GCC offers recommendations in four categories for EPA to consider in its decisionmaking: 

  1. Provide additional resources (including funding, staff, and training) for state and local government agencies to  build their capacity to develop and administer community-based air quality monitoring  programs; 
  2. More actively invite input from state, local and Tribal governments to inform EPA’s approaches to advancing community-based air quality monitoring; 
  3. Develop tools to enable air quality monitoring efforts to better inform policy,  regulatory, and enforcement actions. 
  4. Provide guidelines to clarify data quality and methods needed for community-based monitoring projects to more effectively inform how such projects could  produce more purpose-driven, technically sound, quality data, and thereby achieve their desired results. 

“Air monitoring on its own will not guarantee  more equitable outcomes, but more resources are needed to build the capacity of state and local officials to ensure that projects are designed and implemented in ways that meaningfully address community needs.” 

See GCC’s full comments and recommendations in the EPA docket or View comments as a PDF.


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