LRAPA receives $5M grant to reduce air pollution in Oakridge

The Targeted Airshed Grant is from the Environmental Protection Agency, which made about $40 million available for areas struggling to meet national standards for clean air.

Posted: Oct 11, 2019 10:38 AM

OAKRIDGE, Ore. -- The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency has received almost $5 million, aimed at reducing pollution in Oakdridge.

The Targeted Airshed Grant is from the Environmental Protection Agency, which made about $40 million available for areas struggling to meet national standards for clean air.

Officials said Oakridge is the only area in Lane County designated a nonattainment area, although the city has gotten on the right track in the past three years.

“We are grateful for our partnerships and support from the Oakridge community,” said LRAPA Director Merlyn Hough. “These funds will make it possible to keep up the energy and progress in the efforts to clean up Oakridge’s particulate pollution problems.”

The source of Oakridge’s pollution problems is in part residents’ reliance on woodstoves for heat, which causes thick concentrations of smoke in the area, primarily in winter.

LRAPA officials said the grant will help with a variety of strategies over the next five years, including:

  • Affordable dry wood program
  • Woodstove upgrades
  • Weatherization upgrades
  • Increased education in schools and the community
  • Upgraded air filters in public areas
  • Strengthened enforcement program

Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley commended efforts to clean up the air in Oakridge.

“I have heard during town halls in Oakridge about the need to ensure rural Oregon enjoys a strong quality of live, and I am proud to have teamed up with local officials to help achieve that goal in Oakridge,” Wyden said.

Merkley indicated that the planned changes will have an impact beyond just Oakridge.

“This collaborative effort to not only reduce particulate emissions, but also provide filtration devices for vulnerable populations, will help the entire region achieve the clean air that everyone deserves to breathe,” Merkley said.

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