City receives grant to reduce pollution

New Haven residents may notice a change in the air following the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to award New Haven $300,000 to fight air pollution.

The award, which was announced Friday, was granted to New Haven for its demonstrated commitment to reducing toxic emissions, according to an EPA statement. The money will help New Haven build upon current air-pollution initiatives to create The Green New Haven Project, a community-based anti-pollution program. designed to allow New Haven residents and Yale students and faculty to cooperate on solutions to New Haven’s air pollution problem, Yale Student Environmental Coalition Co-Chair Caroline Howe ’07 said.

“The basic idea of the project is to bring together environmentalists of all forms and those who may not be normally involved with environmental issues, everything from engineers and economists to faculty and students,” Howe said. “The idea [is] that students would be put to work under the advising of professors to create effective, creative solutions for businesses in New Haven.”

Mayor John DeStefano Jr. said that although New Haven has already taken important steps to fight air pollution, he believes the Elm City can do more.

“New Haven is proud of its efforts to improve the quality of the air our children breathe,” DeStefano said in a press release. “This grant is a reflection of that success, but also on the work that remains. Far too many of our children suffer from asthma, and this grant will help us help them.”

Howe, whose organization was involved with securing the grant, said the project aims to help local businesses reduce their pollution levels by developing more efficient industrial processes and new technologies such as scrubbers to remove air pollutants. Part of the $300,000 will also go toward hiring more environmental coordinators in the city government, which Howe said has been understaffed. The project takes a broader view on the problem of air pollution than past New Haven initiatives, which Howe said have focused on levels of specific chemicals rather than targeting a variety of factors related to air quality.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Rebecca Livengood ’07 said levels of air pollution in New Haven are particularly high due to the proximity of the I-91 and I-95 highways and the Elm City’s history as a manufacturing center. She also said respiratory ailments resulting from air pollution are exacerbated because many local residents cannot afford appropriate treatment.

“What is so pressing about the need to improve air quality is that [many] residents of New Haven are disproportionately affected by air quality because they don’t have the same amount of access to health care that wealthier residents have,” Livengood said.

New Haven was one of 12 communities nationwide selected to receive funding as part of the EPA’s Community Action for a Renewed Environment program, which seeks to help communities combat pollution through voluntary local initiatives.

According to the statement, New Haven — which received the larger of the two funding categories offered by CARE — is currently purchasing ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel for its municipal and school bus fleets, helping local businesses reduce toxic emissions and implementing environmentally friendly construction practices for new school sites.

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