EPA air quality grant awarded to Klamath County
Mon Oct 12 2020 07:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded a $1,839,947 million grant to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Klamath County Public Health and local partners to support ongoing efforts to improve air quality and protect community health in Klamath Falls.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded a $1,839,947 million grant to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Klamath County Public Health and local partners to support ongoing efforts to improve air quality and protect community health in Klamath Falls, according to a news release.
Grant funds will be used to reduce harmful air pollution from wood smoke through a range of programs, including woodstove change-out and home weatherization that will improve heating efficiency and reduce heating costs for residents.
The Klamath Falls community experiences high levels of harmful fine particle or PM2.5 emissions during the winter months, primarily due to smoke from residential woodstoves. Replacing woodstoves with non-wood burning devices such as gas inserts, furnaces and ductless heat pumps reduces emissions and improves air quality. Poor air quality is particularly harmful for children, people over 65 and those with preexisting medical conditions.
The grant strengthens existing efforts by Oregon DEQ, Klamath County Public Health and the South Central Oregon Economic Development District (SCOEDD) to deliver a comprehensive program that reduces emissions from residential woodstoves in the Klamath Falls area. Over the last 10 years, this partnership has yielded nearly 500 woodstove change-outs, with an emphasis on changing out devices in low-income households.
The grant will also fund a study of household heating and woodstove use by the Oregon Institute of Technology. Study results will inform future program investments and activities.
“EPA’s clean air grant funding will help Klamath Falls residents breathe easier, especially in the fall and winter months,” said Chris Hladick, EPA regional administrator. “This funding will further bolster the community’s already successful efforts to reduce wood smoke pollution and improve local air quality. We are encouraged by Klamath County’s improvement in air quality in recent years and our hope is that this funding will help our partners achieve permanent reductions of particle pollution.”
The primary strategy of the Klamath Falls Targeted Airshed Program builds and improves upon long-standing and robust woodstove change-out efforts in the area by converting wood-burning residential heating devices to non-wood burning devices such as gas inserts and ductless heat pumps. The program will be coupled with residential weatherization efforts to maximize heating efficiency and reduce costs for residents. The proposed project would replace approximately 144 woodstoves with non-wood burning devices over a five-year period in the area. These activities are expected to lead to a reduction of approximately 6.62 tons per year of PM2.5, or about 4.5% of the annual contributions to PM2.5 from residential wood burning.
“Replacing woodstoves with other more efficient heat sources reduces air pollution and leads to cleaner, healthier air,” said Richard Whitman, Oregon DEQ director. “These programs help residents stay warm in winter months while improving air quality for everyone in the Klamath Falls area.”
“In the past 10 years, SCOEDD has overseen nearly 500 woodstove change outs resulting in nearly 5.5 tons of reduced emissions,” said Betty Riley, SCOEDD executive director. “As a result, the improvement in the air quality has been marked. This not only improves the health of our citizens, but also impacts our economy.”
“For over two years now, Oregon Tech has worked closely with both the Oregon DEQ and Klamath County Public Health to try and help solve the air quality issues faced in the Klamath Basin,” said Adelaide Clark, Ph.D., Oregon Tech project lead. “We are excited to continue this partnership and move towards a Klamath Falls with cleaner, healthier air.”