(The Center Square) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture is sending $740,000 to Pennsylvania for “critical infrastructure to combat climate change” – but most of the money will go toward repaving parking lots.
The USDA Rural Development program provides taxpayer money for all sorts of programs, from infrastructure to health care to environmental and economic concerns in the rural parts of America. In fiscal year 2022, it provided almost $1.5 billion for local projects.
Its latest announcement noted sixteen projects in Pennsylvania, but the lion’s share of the funding will go to four parking lots in Bloomsburg.
“These sixteen projects represent Pennsylvania’s diverse rural economy and will strengthen its resilience,” USDA State Director Bob Morgan said in a news release. “The Biden–Harris Administration has created a roadmap for how we can tackle the climate crisis and expand access to renewable energy infrastructure.”
That roadmap has a strong emphasis on cars.
“The Town of Bloomsburg in Columbia County received a $500,000 grant to repave four parking lots in the town,” the news release noted. “The aging infrastructure needs major repairs. Improvements of these lots will impact more than 30 businesses that are within a block radius of the proposed project.”
It is unclear how parking lots are critical infrastructure against climate change, though local businesses may benefit from customers having higher-quality parking nearby.
Other grants, smaller in size, have a clearer connection to environmental concerns.
Vacuum Process Inc. in Bedford County will get $8,825 “to install more energy-efficient insulation, ceiling fans and propane tube heaters” to reduce electricity usage. Goot Essa LLC in Centre County will get $7,912 “to upgrade its current solar system with the installation of additional ground-mounted solar panels as well as adding three lithium batteries and a higher watt inverter.”
Other grants are larger, though nowhere near the $500,000 parking repavement grant.
Three Rivers Grown LLC in Clarion County will get $20,000 for a solar photovoltaic system that is “expected to save approximately $4,200 per year and will replace 37,368 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year.” Clugston Farms LLC in Dauphin County will also get $20,000 for a solar photovoltaic system. It’s expected to save $7,400 per year and replace 84,647 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year.
All told, ten of the grants will go toward funding solar photovoltaic systems.
While a federal program, Pennsylvania also provides agricultural grants and subsidies. Critics have called the spending corporate welfare that does not produce economic growth or jobs, as The Center Square previously reported, but supporters argue the spending is necessary.
Energy-related projects are at most 33% of the USDA’s latest funding announcement. The majority of funds “to combat climate change” in Pennsylvania went, instead, to a car-related infrastructure project.
Anthony Hennen is a reporter for The Center Square. Previously, he worked for Philadelphia Weekly and the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He is managing editor of Expatalachians, a journalism project focused on the Appalachian region.
This article was republished with permission from The Center Square.