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Center for Environment Receives Grant from Robertson Foundation

May 20, 2009

Category: Academics, Environmental Science

The Center for the Environment at Catawba College has received a $25,000 grant from the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation for the Center's Clean Air Initiative.

The Robertson Foundation funds will be used to assist the Center in meeting the matching requirements for its CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality) grant with the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Over the next four years — if the Center is able to secure $272,000 in matching private funds — the CMAQ grant will provide nearly $1 million in reimbursement funding for all education and outreach activities related to the Clean Air Initiative.      

The Clean Air Initiative is designed to educate citizens about the significant air quality issues affecting the region and to serve as a catalyst for actions that will mitigate air pollution. Metropolitan Charlotte ranks as the eighth smoggiest area in the United States, according to the American Lung Association. Rowan County ranks 13th highest among U.S. counties for ozone pollution.

Rowan is also one of six contiguous counties — along with Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Gaston, Lincoln and Union –that have been designated non-attainment areas, which means they don't meet federal air quality standards. This could hurt local industries and prevent the region from getting federal transportation money.

The initiative's aim is to empower area residents to implement strategies in their personal lives and communities that will address air quality issues. The project builds on the successes of the Center's previous Clean Air Initiative, which began in 2004. While it will focus on Rowan and Cabarrus counties, the resources it develops will potentially help other regional efforts to mitigate air pollution.

The project will emphasize such topics as transportation alternatives, planned growth, energy conservation, green building, walkable communities, preservation of tree canopy, health, industrial and agricultural practices and recycling.

"We are most grateful for this generous gift from the Robertson Foundation for our Clean Air Initiative," says John Wear, executive director of the Center for the Environment. "The citizens of Rowan and Cabarrus counties now and in the future will be the beneficiaries, because the air we breathe clearly affects the health of our people and the health of our economy."




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