Apr 19, 2023 - News

Iowa's justification for passing over $3M environmental grant

Illustration of a recycling bin full of cash bills.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Iowa skipped applying for a $3 million federal pollution reduction grant because it was redundant with a state initiative, Iowa Economic Development Authority director Debi Durham tells Axios in a statement.

Why it matters: It was an opportunity to improve Iowa's energy plan using money that doesn't require a state match, Rep. Chuck Isenhart (D-Dubuque) tells Axios.

  • And in doing so, the state also made itself ineligible for phase II of the program —a $4.6 billion total allocation to help local and state governments transition to clean energy economies.

Catch up fast: The federal Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) is part of the Biden administration's Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

  • The grants are earmarked largely for projects that cut greenhouse gas emissions and lower health insurance-related costs.
  • As we first reported earlier this month, Iowa, Florida, Kentucky and South Dakota were the only four states to miss the March 31 deadline to participate.

Zoom in: The Iowa Energy Plan was adopted by the state government and endorsed by then-Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds in 2016.

  • It outlines dozens of strategies to encourage economic development, including clean energy resources.

What they're saying: Durham contends it is better to stay on course rather than create a new plan through the federal program, according to the statement.

The other side: The state's program is worth updating due to national policy changes and advances in technology, Brian Campbell, director of the Iowa Environmental Council, tells Axios.

  • Iowa's three largest metros can still apply for citywide grants and potentially be eligible to compete in the $4.6 billion phase.
  • But rural communities where environmental projects could have substantial influence on jobs and lower energy bills will be left out, Campbell says.

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