Editor’s Note: This blog post is authored by Jeanne Merrill, policy consultant representing NSAC on U.S. EPA’s Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Advisory Committee. She can be reached at jeanne [at] jeannemerrillconsulting.com.
When the Inflation Reduction Act became law last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received the largest portion of the climate change-related funds. Implementation of those dollars is now underway, and one of EPA’s efforts is funding for states, local governments, and tribes to develop and implement Climate Pollution Reduction Plans.
Agricultural organizations may want to engage with this effort as it represents the largest federally funded climate action planning to ever take place, with $5 billion available nationally to develop and implement climate plans. Some states have already begun their climate change plans, including California, which aims to increase organic agriculture in the state by 20 percent by 2045 to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sinks. Other states could similarly lift up agricultural solutions to the climate crisis in their plans. The EPA-funded climate planning effort is starting now and will continue for several years. Details on the plans and next steps are outlined below.
Climate Pollution Reduction Plans – What and When
Under the new program, states, large municipalities, and tribes can receive noncompetitive funding to develop their Climate Pollution Reduction Plans. State and local governments must notify EPA by the end of March of their intent to participate in the program. Applications and work plans for planning funding are due by April 28, 2023, with funding anticipated by the summer of this year. Tribes have until June 15 to submit their applications and work plans.
For those states that decline to participate in developing a plan, their allocation of funding will be made available to municipalities in their state. More on that here.
The first initial climate plan is due March 2024, with a more comprehensive plan covering all sectors of the economy including agriculture due in 2025. Meanwhile, implementation funding will get underway soon – more on that below.
EPA’s guidance on the plans includes the following:
• Adopt and implement ambitious policies and programs to reduce GHG emissions and accelerate decarbonization across multiple important sectors (e.g., industry, electricity generation, transportation, commercial and residential buildings, agriculture/natural and working lands, and waste and materials management).
• Adopt robust metrics and reporting programs to track emission reductions and important benefits throughout their jurisdiction and in disadvantaged communities.
More Than Just a Plan – Implementation Funding To Come
Later this year, EPA will announce a competitive funding process to implement the Climate Pollution Reduction Plans. The funding will be available starting in the first quarter of 2024. Details on the implementation funding are still forthcoming. The total funds are $4.6 billion.
How Can I Engage?
EPA is keeping a list of states and municipalities that have notified EPA that they intend to participate and develop a climate plan. To access this list, go to the program web page and look at the “Updates” box for the document titled, “Status of Notice of Intent to Participate Submittals.”
To engage with your state or local government in climate planning and implementation, you can start by connecting with the lead entity listed for your region. For some states that will be a state agency, for others it will be the Governor’s office or a commission working on climate change issues. Once you know the lead entity, ask them how your organization can provide input into the plan and implementation effort. You can start by sending them a letter outlining your organization’s top priorities for climate action for agriculture. If your state declines to participate, as noted above, the largest municipalities in your state will be eligible to receive the funds instead. You can contact EPA staff about efforts in your state by emailing them here: CPRG@epa.gov. You can also keep up to date on the Climate Pollution Reduction funds by signing up here.
Need More Resources?
In 2019, NSAC member groups and staff put together a report on the science and practice of climate action in agriculture. Another great NSAC resource is the coalition’s climate change page. Please feel free to share your experiences reaching out to your state leads on the Climate Pollution Reduction Plans. Are they including agriculture and rural communities in their initial plan? What kind of strategies are they considering? How are you engaging? Any tips to offer fellow climate and agriculture advocates? Please feel free to contact Cathy Day, NSAC’s Climate Policy Coordinator, or Jeanne Merrill, policy consultant.