On Earth Day, USDA invests nearly $800 million in critical infrastructure to fight climate change in rural America

165 projects will help people in disadvantaged communities access clean water and clean energy

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2022 – Today, in honor of Earth Day 2022, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing nearly $800 million in smart infrastructure climate change (PDF, 587 KB) in 40 states, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands. He is. These investments will strengthen the health and livelihoods of people in rural America. They include the financing of 165 projects aimed at increasing access to drinking water and/or clean energy for people living in disadvantaged communities.

Today’s announcement is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure tour, during which Biden administration officials travel to dozens of rural communities to speak about the he impact of investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, as well as President Biden’s broader commitment to ensuring federal resources reach every community in rural America. This announcement also advances the President’s Justice40 initiative, which commits to providing at least 40% of the benefits of federal climate and clean energy investments to underprivileged communities.

“People in rural America are experiencing the impacts of climate change in many ways. This includes more severe droughts, more frequent wildfires, and more destructive and potentially deadly storms,” Vilsack said. “When we invest in rural community infrastructure, we invest in our planet, and we also invest in peace of mind for families when children drink clean, safe tap water in their homes. The USDA is proud to celebrate the Day Earth and the many ways we are fighting climate change and investing in local solutions to bring clean water and renewable energy to people in rural areas around the world.

Today, USDA Rural Development is taking several steps to mitigate the impacts of climate change in rural communities.

Advancing Equity in Rural Communities

USDA Rural Development prioritizes projects that advance the Biden-Harris administration’s top priorities of investing in rural communities to ensure people have equitable access to critical resources and to address the climate crisis. Investments in these communities will impact generations to come.

For example, 165 projects announced today will help advance equity in rural communities, especially those that have been socially vulnerable, distressed and underserved for far too long.

Clean energy infrastructure and energy efficiency improvements

The USDA is investing $787 million in renewable energy infrastructure in 36 states to help agricultural producers, rural small business owners and residents reduce energy costs and make energy efficiency improvements. The Department makes the investments under the Electric Loan Program and the Rural Power Program for America (REAP).

Through REAP, the Department is helping 157 rural businesses and agricultural producers gain access to clean energy, while reducing their carbon footprint to make their business operations more profitable.

For example, in South Carolina, Limelight Solar I LLC will use a $2.1 million REAP loan to purchase and install a 2.5 megawatt solar system. The system is expected to produce 3.9 million kilowatt hours per year, enough electricity to power 362 homes in the city of Spartanburg.

Electric program funding includes nearly $67 million for smart grid technologies that improve system operations and monitor grid security.

For example, in Pennsylvania, REA Energy Cooperative Inc. will use a $16 million power program loan to connect 635 customers and build and upgrade 186 miles of power lines. This loan includes $6.5 million in smart grid technologies, including 35 miles of aerial fiber.

Infrastructure improvements for communities affected by extreme weather conditions

USDA is investing $12 million to help rural communities affected by severe weather. The funds will benefit people living in 17 states, the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico. The Department makes the investments through the Community Facilities Disaster Grant Program and the Water and Waste Disposal Disaster Loan and Grant Program.

The funds will help communities build back better by mitigating health risks and improving access to safe and reliable drinking water and sanitary waste disposal services. The funds will also purchase emergency response equipment to help communities be better prepared and more resilient to disasters.

For example, in Puerto Rico, Acueducto Rural Comunidades Especiales Bayamocito Inc. will use a $30,000 disaster water and waste disposal grant to purchase a new 20 kilowatt generator with an automatic transfer switch. This grant will help ensure residents of Aguas Buenas, a community hit by Hurricane Maria in 2017, have access to safe and reliable drinking water in the event of a future natural disaster.

The City of Graceville, Minnesota will use an $11,000 Community Disaster Facility Grant to purchase and install an emergency storm siren. The siren will alert residents of the community to a risk of severe weather.

The USDA is announcing awards today under multiple programs in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi and Montana. , North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia , Wyoming, Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico.

Background: Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour

Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA and its federal Infrastructure Implementation Task Force partners are working with rural communities to deliver on their promise to support rural America.

The Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour is a multi-faceted outreach effort involving cabinet and sub-cabinet representatives from federal agencies as they travel and learn from key rural communities. These tours will highlight new federal funding and investments already underway through the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, a once-in-a-generation investment that will support rural communities and their infrastructure needs.

The USDA touches the lives of all Americans every day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming the US food system with greater emphasis on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe food, healthy and nutritious in all communities, creating new markets and income streams for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in clean energy infrastructure and capacity in the rural America, and committing to equity across the department by removing systemic barriers and creating a workforce that is more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.

Under the Biden-Harris administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunity, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This aid supports the improvement of infrastructure; Business development; lodging; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed Internet access in rural, tribal and very poor areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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The USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

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