Press Release | March 1, 2024

Southern Leaders take action to reduce climate risks and protect vulnerable communities  

New climate plans offer locally led roadmaps to attract and invest historic federal resources in the South

WASHINGTON – Today, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina submitted Priority Climate Action Plans (PCAPs) as the first deliverable under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Pollution Reduction grant program.

In March 2023, forty-five states sought and received $3 million each in planning grant funds to develop ambitious plans to inventory and reduce sources of greenhouse gases and other harmful air pollution. Sixty-seven of the largest metropolitan areas also received $1 million each. 

These climate plans and federal grants are critical tools in the South, where climate pollution threatens health and where impacts are urgently felt as sea level rise, storms, extreme heat, and flooding become increasingly dangerous. Recognizing that pollution impacts exacerbate inequality, plans were required to prioritize projects that reduce health impacts and create economic opportunities for low-income, disadvantaged communities.  

All six states and twelve metropolitan areas (Richmond, Metropolitan Washington D.C., Hampton Roads, Birmingham-Hoover, Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, Greenville, Memphis, Knoxville, Nashville, Columbia) in SELC’s region received CPRG planning funds. For several states in the South – Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia – these are the first statewide plans that inventory the sources of greenhouse gases and list priority actions to reduce them. These plans – in tandem with a recent boom in clean energy manufacturing investments – reflect growing locally-led momentum to tackle the increasing impacts of climate change on the region.  

In response Southern Environmental Law Center’s Climate Initiative Leader Alys Campaigne released the following statement:     

“The South plays an outsized role in contributing to climate change and severe, accelerating impacts are impacting vulnerable residents with higher pollution exposure and less ability to adapt. We applaud Southern Governors and Mayors for developing bold local strategies to protect people from pollution and invest in innovative projects that spur a cleaner economy and more resilient communities. We now have sector-based data on the sources of climate pollution and a roadmap for taking meaningful action in each of our six states. These plans will help draw other competitive public and private investments to our region to deliver on the clean energy transition and respond to community needs.” 

The PCAP plans are the launch pad for the next phase of the grant process: $4.6 billion is available in competitive grants for states, local governments, tribes, and territories to implement projects to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Implementation grant applications are due on April 1, 2024.   

The transportation sector remains the largest source of climate pollution in our states. Stakeholders across the South supported projects to reduce greenhouse gases other dangerous air pollutants from this sector by expanding transit and other clean travel options, electrifying cars and trucks, and proposals to clean up ports, railyards, and freight hubs that have long polluted communities of color in the South.  

Some other highlights from the plans submitted today include: 

  • Georgia: transportation electrification, energy efficiency, increased availability of renewable power, better waste diversion and landfill management, sustainable land use, and management of refrigerants 
  • South Carolina: expanded weatherization and energy efficiency programs, Climate Smart Forestry, enhanced protection of land that can store carbon, organic waste recover programs, and transportation programs to provide alternatives to driving 
  • Virgina: cleaner cars and more transportation options, industrial energy efficiency, methane capture, renewable energy generation, building electrification, preservation and restoration of coasts, wetlands, and forests 
  • Tennessee: increasing electric light and medium-duty vehicles in municipal fleets, expansion of the fast-charging network 
  • Alabama: reducing air pollution impacts in Birmingham through transportation electrification, energy efficiency, waste management 
  • North Carolina: equitable clean transportation funding, expanded renewable power, grid resilience, expanded recycling and waste management, building energy efficiency and protection of natural landscapes that can store carbon

Are you a reporter and would like more information? Please visit our press contact page for a full list of SELC’s press contacts.

Press Contacts

Aisha Dukule

Communications Manager

Phone: (202) 828-8382
Email: [email protected]