Climate Change’s Impact on Ohio Cities and What We Know About New Funding Available to Cities from the Inflation Reduction Act

Climate change is costing Ohio’s cities money. And it will continue to do so. Earlier this month, Power a Clean Future Ohio and the Ohio Environmental Council released a report entitled The Bill Is Coming Due: Calculating the Financial Cost of Climate Change to Ohio’s Local Governments. The report explains in detail how climate change is raising costs of everything from street maintenance to construction projects in cities. As an example, this excerpt from testimony PCFO Executive Director Joe Flarida gave to the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee describes how Cincinnati had to spend $18 million from its operating budget to reinforce a hillside that was collapsing due to increased rainfall in the city—$18 million that was intended for a new police station.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which was signed into law on August 16, 2022, directs significant federal funds to initiatives to address climate change, and many of those funds will go directly to cities and other local governments that are impacted by climate change. Those funds could not be more needed or timely. Shortly after signing the Inflation Reduction Act, the White House released fact sheets detailing the impact of the law in each state—Ohio’s fact sheet highlights, among other things, funding for a new Neighborhood Access and Equity Grant Program and investments in clean energy and energy efficiency upgrades (more detail below).

Funding for Cities in the Inflation Reduction Act

The following is what we know about specific funding in the IRA for cities. This info is drawn from this fantastic post at Columbia Law School’s Climate Law Blog.

  • Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund – a new greenhouse gas reduction fund, administered by the EPA, will provide billions of dollars in direct and indirect investment in projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the local level. Municipalities are eligible for the over $26 billion available via grants, loans, and financial and technical assistance via this program. $8 billion of that total is specifically earmarked for activities in low-income and disadvantaged communities.
  • Climate Pollution Reduction Grants – $250 million to municipalities to develop plans to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, and $4.75 billion for grants to implement greenhouse gas pollution reduction plans.
  • Zero Building Energy Code Adoption – local governments that have building code authority can apply for $330 million in funding from the Department of Energy to develop or adopt new building codes.
  • Clean Heavy-Duty Vehicles – the IRA contains an appropriation for $600 million for costs associated with replacing non-zero-emissions heavy-duty vehicles with zero-emissions vehicles. The funds can also cover fueling and charging infrastructure for cities.
  • Low Emissions Electricity Program – the IRA contains a $17 million appropriation for outreach and technical assistance to local governments for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that result from domestic electricity generation and use.
  • Neighborhood Access and Equity Grant Program – funding for highway removal, remediation, or capping, with a focus on mitigating the impacts of highways and building or improving complete streets, multiuse trails, regional greenways, or active transportation networks. The IRA sets aside $1.893 billion for use in any community, and $1.262 billion for economically disadvantaged communities.
  • Environmental Review Implementation Funds – $100 million in funding for local governments to facilitate and build capacity for environmental review of surface transportation projects.
  • Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grants – new block grant program that makes $2.8 billion available for (1) community-led air and other pollution monitoring, prevention, and remediation, and investments in low- and zero-emission and resilient technologies; (2) mitigation of urban heat islands, extreme heat, wood heater emissions, and wildfires; (3) reducing indoor air pollution; (4) climate resilience and adaptation; and (5) facilitating engagement of disadvantaged communities.
  • Coastal Communities and Climate Resilience – $2.6 billion for the conservation, restoration, and protection of coastal and marine habitats.
  • State and Private Forestry Conservation – $1.5 billion to support tree planting activities.