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EPA awards $20 billion in green bank grants for clean energy projects nationwide

DETROIT (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday awarded $20 billion in federal green bank grants to eight community development banks and nonprofits to use on projects to combat climate change in underserved communities and help Americans save money and protect their environmental health. reduce footprint.

The money could fund tens of thousands of eligible projects ranging from home heat pumps and other energy-efficient home improvements to large-scale projects such as electric vehicle charging stations and community cooling centers, according to senior officials in President Joe Biden’s administration.

Vice President Kamala Harris, EPA Administrator Michael Regan and other officials planned to announce the grant selections Thursday during a visit to Charlotte, North Carolina. Harris has made repeated trips to the battleground state this year as Democrats hope to win a state they narrowly lost to Republican Donald Trump in the last presidential election.

In a local radio interview conducted before her trip, Harris said North Carolina “will really help determine the outcome of who will occupy the White House for the next four years.” And this election we have everything on the line.”

The green bank overseeing the subsidies announced Thursday was created by Biden’s landmark climate law, the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed in 2022.

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The bank, formally known as the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, is one of several federal efforts to invest in solutions that reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions and address man-made climate change, an issue that President Joe Biden his presidency has emphasized. Democratic re-election campaign.

The bank’s goals are to reduce climate and air pollution and mobilize public and private capital in the communities that need it most.

As part of Thursday’s news, the $14 billion National Clean Investment Fund program awarded money to three nonprofits that will work with states and the private sector to provide affordable financing for projects across the country.

The $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator has also awarded funding to five institutions that will work with other groups to create hubs that make financing and technical assistance accessible to community lenders.

Recipients pledged to spend $7 in private sector financing for every dollar of federal investment money to “reduce or avoid” 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually and earmark 70% of the money for underserved and disadvantaged communities low incomes. These groups are often overlooked by commercial banks and investors, yet are disproportionately affected by climate change.

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The eight recipients of funding include:

—Coalition for Green Capital, a nonprofit organization that partners with a national network of state, local and nonprofit green banks, received $5 billion.

—Power Forward Communities, a nonprofit coalition formed by five housing, climate and community investment groups, received $2 billion.

—Appalachian Community Capital, a nonprofit community development financial institution that works with lenders in Appalachia, received $500 million.

Also part of the bank is the $7 billion Solar for All program, which will award states, tribes and municipalities money at a later date for a variety of residential and community solar projects.

Details around the bank were outlined last February, with applications for the programs requested in July and due last fall.

“I think this is a very important part of our national strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and engage every community in the clean energy revolution,” Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland told The Associated Press. The Democrat first introduced legislation to create a national green bank fifteen years ago. “Now we just have to work very hard on implementation,” he said.

But the taxpayer-funded green bank has also faced opposition, particularly from Republicans in Congress, who have called it a “slush fund” and raised concerns about accountability and transparency over how the money is spent. is used. House Republicans passed a bill last month to repeal the bank and other parts of the president’s climate agenda.

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At the state level, Connecticut’s Green Bank and others have been successful in tracking the impact of their programs.

Through the national program, the projects included can be larger, generate more money and have a greater impact.

“The scale envisioned for these entities could be an example of successful state-owned green banks, while boosting the number of communities served,” said Katherine Hamilton, president of public policy firm 38 North Solutions and who drafted the underlying legislation for the fund worked, in an email. She said this would help the country “get through the energy transition faster.”

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Associated Press writer Chris Megerian contributed to this report from Washington.

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Alexa St. John is an Associated Press climate solutions reporter. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter, @alexa_stjohn. Reach her at ast.john@ap.org.

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The Associated Press’ climate and environmental reporting receives funding from several private foundations. AP is solely responsible for all content. Find AP’s Standards for Working with Charities, a list of supporters, and funded coverage areas at AP.org.

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