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On Earth Day, USDA Invests Nearly $800 Million in Critical Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change Across Rural America

Phil Eggman
Release Date
Apr 22, 2022

Funding Will Help People in Rural Communities Access Safe Water and Clean Renewable Energy

OLYMPIA, April 22, 2022 – Today, in honor of Earth Day 2022, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing nearly $800 million in climate-smart infrastructure in 40 states, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands. These investments will strengthen the health and livelihoods of people across rural America, including funding for projects in Washington State that expand access to safe and sanitary waste water treatment and/or clean energy.

Today’s announcement is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour, during which Biden Administration officials are traveling to dozens of rural communities to talk about the impact of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments, as well as President Biden’s broader commitment to ensure federal resources reach all communities in rural America.

“When we invest in infrastructure in rural communities, we are investing in our planet, and we’re also investing in the peace of mind families will have when kids are drinking clean and safe tap water in their homes,” Vilsack said. “USDA is proud to celebrate Earth Day and the many ways we are addressing climate change and investing in locally-driven solutions to bring safe water and renewable energy to people in rural areas everywhere.”

Water and Wastewater Infrastructure

On Earth Day, USDA invested nearly $800 million nationally in critical infrastructure across Rural America. In Washington State, USDA Rural Development will invest over $15.7 to improve capability and capacity at the wastewater treatment plant in the Town of Friday Harbor in San Juan County.  The plant serves a population of approximately 2,800 people, plus wastewater from the University of Washington Laboratories.

Clean Energy Infrastructure and Energy Efficiency Improvements

USDA is investing $787 million in renewable energy infrastructure in 36 states to help agricultural producers, rural small business owners and residents lower energy costs and make energy-efficiency improvements. The Department is making the investments under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

Through REAP, the Department is helping seven rural businesses and agricultural producers in Washington State get access to clean energy, while reducing their carbon footprint to make their business operations more cost-effective.

  • For example, Orcas Power and Light Cooperative will receive a $100,000 grant to fund energy audits to agricultural producers and rural small businesses in San Juan County. The project will provide approximately 20 energy audits to eligible businesses.
  • In Kittitas County, the Pautzke Bait Company will use a $19,968 grant to help purchase and install a 56-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system to provide electricity to their manufacturing operation in Ellensburg, Wash. The company will realize $5,167 in savings and replace 55,059 kilowatts of energy, or 40 percent per year, enough electricity to power five homes.

Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA and its federal partners in the Infrastructure Implementation Task Force are working with rural communities to deliver on the promise of support for rural America.

The Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour is a multi-faceted outreach effort involving cabinet and sub-cabinet officials across federal agencies as they travel to and learn from key rural communities. These visits will highlight new federal funding and investments already underway through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a once-in-a-generation investment that will support rural communities and their infrastructure needs.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.