State launches $10 million Climate Resilience Fund to help its communities prepare for damaging effects of climate change

On September 20, 2022, Connecticut‘s governor, Ned Lamont, announced the launch of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection‘s (DEEP) Climate Resilience Fund.

This state grant program that will help communities in the state plan and prepare for the effects of climate change. The fund is an historic state-level investment that will help communities initiate planning and envision projects for community climate resilience that can be implemented and constructed with federal funds.

A total of $10 million in state bond funding will be available in this first round. At least 40% of the funding will be prioritized for vulnerable communities, including environmental justice communities that will feel the effects of climate change first and worst.

Creation of the DEEP Climate Resilience Fund was an action initiated by Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 21-3, which he signed in December 2021 and was implemented at the recommendation of the 2021 Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) report.

This program will help Connecticut’s communities get to the front of the line for the historic investment our federal government is making to construct climate resilient infrastructure and implement nature-based solutions,” Governor Lamont said.

Once implemented, these projects will protect our homes and businesses, keep the lights on, contribute to a clean and healthy environment for our urban communities, and provide habitat for our fish and wildlife. This investment of state bond funds is a down payment on that future, catalyzing Connecticut’s project pipeline through inclusive community climate planning,” he added.

The DEEP Climate Resilience Fund creates two funding opportunity tracks:

  • Track 1 – Planning: Will provide funding for comprehensive climate resilience planning at either the regional, municipal, or neighborhood (hyper-local) level.
  • Track 2 – Project Development: Will provide funding for municipalities and other related entities, to advance identified resilience projects to the concept stage and to be ready to apply for federal funding for implementation.

Together, these two funding tracks will create the climate resilience project pipeline, composed of plans and project concept designs that can win competitive federal grants to substantially fund implementation and construction.

Federal funding for climate resilience has grown by 400%, with more than $49 billion in funding available from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said.

Those federal dollars have the potential to transform our communities, but we’ll only receive them if we have compelling applications to submit. DEEP is proud to be helping Connecticut communities from the beginning, by funding planning assistance and community engagement that will build a pipeline of compelling, impactful projects to help keep our communities safe,” she continued.

In fact, funding under this program may be used to prepare those federal grant applications. All grantees are also required to develop a local match funding strategy to meet the non-federal match requirements of federal funding opportunities. The local match strategy may include using the stormwater authority and climate resilience board expansions authorized under Governor Lamont’s Public Act 21-115.

Investing in climate mitigation and adaptation is critical. By 2050, Connecticut will experience stronger storms with stronger winds and heavier rain, longer, more frequent droughts, up to 20 inches of sea level rise along the coast, increased frequency of coastal flooding with levels like those seen in Superstorm Sandy every five to ten years, and an average of 20 additional days per year that are over 90°F. Connecticut is already feeling these impacts with heat waves experienced this summer and the record-breaking rainfall of storms last year.

The DEEP Climate Resilience Fund strongly encourages planning and project development that incorporates elements of nature to reduce flooding and erosion risks while protecting and preserving natural habitats.

These “nature-based solutions” work at a neighborhood and community-scale and will preserve town and city coastal beaches for swimming, wetlands for birding and paddling, and rivers for fishing, while also giving flood water a place to go so that roads, homes, and businesses don’t flood.

A launch event and webinar for the DEEP Climate Resilience Fund will be held on Friday, September 23, 2022, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Remarks will be given by Commissioner Dykes and members of the Governor’s Council on Climate Change. Those who are interested in this state grant program are strongly encouraged to participate. Register for this virtual event.

Track 1 applications are due on November 10, 2022.
Track 2 applications must be received by December 1, 2022.

Photo of Hartford, Connecticut via Pixabay.

See complete details on the DEEP Climate Resilience Fund.

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