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USDA NRCS Conservation Easement and Restoration Funding Programs

The U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) offers financial incentives and technical support through multiple programs to public and private landowners aiming to conserve wetlands, agricultural lands, grasslands, and forests through long-term easements. NRCS provides funding opportunities to acquire land for conservation in both a post-disaster and pre-disaster context. All NRCS programs are voluntary and allow working lands owners to be compensated for conserving their lands. These programs and easements can increase local resilience to climate change by improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, and enhancing wildlife habitat. Most USDA conservation funding is allocated through the Commodity Credit Corporation and authorized in Farm Bills (about $5.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2018), while other conservation programs - offering mostly technical assistance - are funded by discretionary spending and annual appropriations (about $1 billion annually). 

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USDA NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection Program

The U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) offers an Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) Program to provide both technical and financial assistance to help local communities and individual landowners recover from disaster events that impair a watershed. The EWP Program provides two assistance program options for Recovery and Floodplain Easements. All EWP Program funding is provided to NRCS through Congressional appropriations. EWP Program funding offers the benefit of providing potentially faster and greater geographic coverage support for disaster-impacted communities because while a disaster event is required for eligibility, a presidential disaster declaration is not.

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Duke Energy Progress Partners with RETI for Community Solar

Duke Energy Progress (DEP) worked with the nonprofit, Renewable Energy Transition Initiative (RETI), to increase access to renewable energy programs for lower-income residents. This program provides an example of how utilities can use equity considerations to inform the deployment of renewable energy programs and resources. RETI works to eliminate high energy costs and make renewable energy solutions more accessible through educational programs, community outreach, research, advocacy, and partnerships. RETI promotes income-based applications and brings awareness to this energy saving program through engaging with communities at local community events and churches. DEP and RETI also launched The Shared Solar program for its residential and non-residential customers to be able to share in the economic benefits from a single solar facility. The cost savings from this community solar program are allocated to low-income customers in the company’s territory.

 

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Virginia SB 320 Community Flood Preparedness Fund

April 22, 2020

In 2020, Virginia created the Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund (Virginia Code §§ 10. 1-603. 24 and 10. 1-603. 25). Through this law, the state established a low-interest revolving loan fund to help local governments and communities adapt to increasing coastal and inland flooding from multiple, different sources, including sea-level rise and precipitation. The purpose of the fund is to enhance the state’s overall coastal resilience by funding flood prevention and mitigation projects, prioritizing projects in low-income areas and that are designed with nature-based solutions.

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Chicago, Illinois Central Loop Tax Increment Financing

2020

Chicago, Illinois has established more than 120 Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, and has leveraged its public investment to attract $6 billion in private capital investments in these districts. Revenue from Chicago’s Central Loop TIF has been used to fund the city’s Green Roof Improvement Fund, which incentivizes and provides partial reimbursement to commercial buildings that install green roofs to manage stormwater. Chicago’s TIFs currently fund a small array of adaptive and climate-related projects, such as green alleys and wastewater infrastructure, but all TIF-funded projects must meet sustainability standards. In February 2020, Chicago’s Mayor announced a series of reforms to promote transparency in the TIF system, including the creation of a supervisory TIF Investment Committee whose explicit goal is to center equity in its decision making.

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Federal Resources for Nature-Based Solutions to Climate Change

February 2020

In February 2020, the Environmental and Energy Study Initiative released the Federal Resources for Nature-Based Solutions to Climate Change fact sheet, which outlines programs that support nature-based solutions to increase human, ecosystem, and infrastructure resilience to the impacts of climate change. The fact sheet surveys a list of 13 different federal funding and technical assistance programs available to aid in implementing nature-based projects, including those that support: green infrastructure; natural infrastructure; urban focus; habitat restoration; flood prevention; water quality; pollution abatement; and disaster mitigation.

Authors or Affiliated Users: Savannah Bertrand, Katie Schneer

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Texas Flood Infrastructure Fund

November 2019

In 2019, the State of Texas established the Texas Flood Infrastructure Fund (TFIF), which provides financial support to communities for drainage, flood mitigation, and flood control projects. Administered by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), the TFIF fund provides financial assistance to political subdivisions (cities, counties, or state-established districts or authorities) in the form of grants and zero-interest loans. The funding can be used to support planning, design, construction, and rehabilitation of flood projects, whether structural or non-structural (including nature-based).

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PG&E Better Together Resilient Communities Grant Program

March 1, 2018

The Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) Better Together Resilient Communities grant program funds initiatives to help California communities better prepare for, withstand, and recover from extreme weather events and other risks related to climate change. PG&E is investing $2 million over five years in shareholder-funded grants.  In 2018, PG&E focused on projects to help communities prepare for increased frequency and severity of extreme heat events, and the 2019 Resilient Communities grant program focused on wildfire risk.

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Playbook 1.0: How Cities Are Paying for Climate Resilience

July 2019

From the Innovation Network for Communities, this report discusses eight strategies city governments have used to finance climate resilience projects. These strategies were found common to eight different U.S. cities blazing the trail to fund large-scale climate resilience, especially addressing sea level rise and flooding. Other cities can use this information to adopt and build off of these strategies as they seek to fund their own adaptation projects.

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Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund

June 13, 2019

In June 2019, the State of Texas established the Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund (TIRF), a new special fund in the state treasury for the purpose of financing flood mitigation and protection projects and related planning efforts. The TIRF is administered by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and includes four separate accounts: a Federal Matching Account, a Floodplain Management Account, a Flood Implementation Account, and a Hurricane Harvey Account.

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