Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Greenhouse grants for NJ towns and schools

Courier-Post outdoor writer Kevin Callahan reports on a new NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) grant program designed to assist efforts by local government agencies and schools to identify and implement plans to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

The DEP is accepting pre-applications from municipal and county governments, public school districts, county colleges and other local government agencies such as municipal utilities authorities for $2.5 million available in the first round of funding under the Local Government Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant program.

Where's the money coming from? Like another grant program for businesses seeking to implement energy-efficiencies (NJ offers funding for energy-efficient projects), the funding source is RGGI,
the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

What's that?

It's the multi-state program under which utilities and other carbon dioxide emitters pay for privilege of continuing to discharge CO2.
The money they fork over is funneled into various energy conservation projects and alternative energy production incentives. Or, at least, that's the plan.

According to the Courier-Post, the DEP expects applicants to demonstrate that proposed projects will result in measurable reductions of greenhouse gases.

Eligible projects may include those that help local government agencies calculate and reduce their carbon footprints as well as land-use and transportation planning efforts that reduce the need to drive since vehicle exhaust contributes significantly to the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The DEP will also consider projects that spur development of green infrastructure such as green buildings or rooftop gardens, programs that foster resource conservation such as better management of trees, efforts to strengthen local economies through marketing of locally grown food, and outreach programs that promote public involvement in sustainability efforts.

That all sounds pretty high-minded and, with tight oversight, some good could result.

But this, after all, is New Jersey. And we all know that the scent of free public money draws political, consulting and legal sharks like a taste of blood in the water does their natural counterparts.

Who gets the grants and what they produce...only time will tell.

For information on the grant program and a copy of the pre-application, go here

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