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The Nebraska Master Naturalist Program is a public and private partnership supported by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Nebraska Master Naturalist Foundation. Our program recruits, trains, manages, and provides resources for our Naturalist members participating in interpretation and outreach, resource management, citizen science, and outdoor skills and recreation in Nebraska.

Photo by Adrian Olivera

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News & Notes

Following a thorough review of public comments, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced its final decision on the cleanup plan for the remaining groundwater and soil contamination from historical operations at the Amphenol/Franklin Power Products Inc. site in Franklin, Indiana.

From prior investigations, EPA determined that a former site owner’s release of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and other chemicals into the environment caused contaminants to migrate outside the company’s fence line. In 2018, Franklin residents raised concerns to EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management about VOC vapors from the site seeping into nearby homes. Following further investigation, EPA confirmed that there was potential for vapor intrusion from remaining VOCs in soil and sewer laterals, the run of pipe between the building and the city’s main drain sewer. EPA required the company to install vapor mitigation systems in seven homes and to repair plumbing systems at nine properties. EPA’s final cleanup plan outlines additional, specific requirements to address the remaining VOCs in the groundwater and soil both onsite and in the surrounding area.

EPA held a 45-day public comment period, which was extended by 30-days at the request of the community. All comments received during that time period are addressed in the Final Decision document. The final remedy involves installing permeable reactive barriers, or PRBs, on-site and off-site along Forsythe Road, to degrade remaining VOC contamination in soil and groundwater. In addition to PRBs, EPA will establish long-term monitoring of the site. Please visit the Amphenol website for more information and to review the cleanup plan.

The Lee G. Simmons Wildlife Safari Park in Ashland, Nebraska, will open for its season on Saturday, March 25, and will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through October.
“We always look forward to welcoming visitors back to the Wildlife...

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced Michigan would receive a $3 million planning grant to develop innovative strategies to cut climate pollution and build clean energy economies. Earlier this month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of the funds from the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants program created by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.  

“We know that tackling the climate crisis demands a sense of urgency to protect people and the planet,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act is a historic opportunity to provide communities across the country with the resources they need to protect people from harmful climate pollution and improve our economy. These Climate Pollution Reduction Grants are an important first step to equip communities with the resources to create innovative strategies that reduce climate emissions and drive benefits across the country.” 

On March 17, 2023, Michigan submitted the state’s intent to participate in the new program. The state will use the funds to update and expand its existing climate action plan. The funds will also be used to conduct meaningful engagement including with low income and disadvantaged communities throughout Michigan 

Later this year, EPA will launch a competition for an additional $4.6 billion in funding to implement projects and initiatives included in the plans, which Michigan is eligible to receive. The state can also use this funding to develop strategies for using the other grant, loan, and tax provisions secured by President Biden’s historic legislation, including the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to achieve it clean energy, climate, and environmental justice goals.  

“Climate change is already hurting Americans throughout the country,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. “The Climate Pollution Reduction grants made possible by the Inflation Reduction Act will help urban and rural residents, cities and states become more resilient so that Americans can live in healthy, vibrant communities for generations to come.” 

“The MI Healthy Climate Plan was built with input from hundreds of Michiganders over 18 months to chart a path forward for meeting Governor Whitmer’s climate commitments culminating in statewide carbon neutrality by 2050,” said Cory Connolly, climate and energy advisor for the state of Michigan. “This federal support will refine that plan and accelerate its implementation. It also will help in engaging and receiving input from communities across Michigan, especially low-income areas that are typically hit ‘first and worst’ by climate impacts. It is vital that all Michiganders share in the protections and benefits of the Climate Plan, and this moves us toward that goal. 

“Whether it’s extreme flooding, coastal erosion, or the warming of our Great Lakes, Michigan communities are already feeling the effects of the climate crisis. There is simply no time to waste when it comes to taking action,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow. “This investment will allow our state to continue combating the climate crisis, while creating good-paying American jobs.” 

“Reducing air pollution is critical for the health of families and our communities,” said Sen. Gary Peters. “I’m proud to have helped enact the Inflation Reduction Act that will provide this funding for our state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a clean energy economy that benefits Michiganders across our state.” 

“I am proud to have voted for new laws like the Inflation Reduction Act to help Michigan address climate change. This federal funding will help ensure cleaner air and water for all Michigan families. In Congress, I will keep fighting to protect our Great Lakes, our environment and our planet,” said Rep. Dan Kildee. 

“As the home of the American auto industry, we know that the transportation sector accounts for 30% of our nation’s carbon emissions,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell. “Now, the strengths that have driven the growth of the automotive sector for more than a century will help transform Southeast Michigan into a robust and growing clean energy epicenter. I’m proud to have helped secure this funding in the Inflation Reduction Act, which is the single largest investment in clean energy, environmental justice, and climate actions in American history. I’m excited that, given our immense capabilities, infrastructure, and expertise, we are building the clean energy economies that will drive our future right here in Michigan.” 

President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act includes historic funding to combat climate change while creating good-paying jobs and advancing environmental justice. Today’s announcement builds on $550 million announced in February for EPA’s new Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Grantmaking program and $100 million announced earlier this year for environmental justice grants to support underserved and overburdened communities. Additionally, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund will award nearly $27 billion to leverage private capital for clean energy and clean air investments across the country.  

About the Climate Pollution Reduction Grant Program 

The CPRG planning grants will support states, territories, Tribes, municipalities and air agencies, in the creation of comprehensive, innovative strategies for reducing pollution and ensuring that investments maximize benefits, especially for low-income and disadvantaged communities.

These climate plans will include: 

  • Greenhouse gas emissions inventories. 
  • Emissions projections and reduction targets. 
  • Economic, health, and social benefits, including to low-income and disadvantaged communities. 
  • Plans to leverage other sources of federal funding including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act. 
  • Workforce needs to support decarbonization and a clean energy economy. 
  • Future government staffing and budget needs. 

In program guidance released earlier this month, EPA describes how the agency intends to award and manage CPRG funds to eligible entities, including states, metropolitan areas, Tribes, and territories.

Next Steps  

This funding for climate planning will be followed later this year by $4.6 billion in implementation grant funding that will support the expeditious implementation of investment-ready policies, programs, and projects created by the CPRG planning grants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the near term. Through the CPRG program, EPA will support the development and deployment of technologies and solutions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and harmful air pollution, as well as transition America to a clean energy economy that benefits all Americans. 

By summer 2023, EPA regional offices expect to award and administer the funding agreements.  

More information on the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants 

CPRG Planning Grant Program Guidances  

Sign up for notifications about the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants 

Photo by Allison Dush
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