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Federal Policy Summary on Climate & Sustainability Funding Opportunities for Higher Education


New Programs That Have Become Law:

• The Higher Education Act created the University Sustainability Program (USP) to fund competitive grants to colleges and universities as well as higher education consortia, associations, and alliances for the purposes of establishing new or existing sustainability programs

• The Energy Independence and Security Act Section 471 created the Energy Sustainability and Efficiency Grants and Loans for Institutions (ESEGLI) program, which provides up to $500 million in loans and up to $250 million in grants annually for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to higher education institutions, public schools, and local governments.

Active Bills:

Green Energy Education Act (HR 957) authorizes higher education curriculum development and graduate training in advanced energy and green building technologies.

Grants for Renewable Energy Education for the Nation Act (HR 1775) provides support to the Department of Education to fund development of career and technical education programs of study and facilities in areas of renewable energy.

Global Warming Education Act (HR 1926) funds the National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide education opportunities for all Americans, launch a national information campaign to promote solutions to global warming, and establish a competitive grants program for developing education materials.

The Sustainable Energy Training Program for Community Colleges (formerly the Community College Sustainability Act) was included in the new energy bill (S 1462) recently passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. It would authorize $100 million/year for five years for workforce training and education grants from the Department of Energy to community colleges for renewable energy, efficiency, and green technology programs.

Recovery Act Funding:

• $2 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to “expand employment opportunities in fundamental science and engineering to meet environmental challenges and to improve global economic competitiveness.”

• Green Job Training: $500 million for a program of competitive grants for “worker training and placement projects that prepare workers for careers in energy efficiency and renewable energy as described in the Green Jobs Act of 2007.”

• $9.76 billion of the Stabilization Fund for States is allocated for “public safety and other government services, which may include assistance for…modernization, renovation, or repair of public school facilities and institutions of higher education facilities, including modernization, renovation, and repairs that are consistent with a recognized green building rating system.” (Title XIV)

New Campaigns:

• Senators Murray and Snowe introduced an amendment to the 2008 Climate Security Act that dedicated 1%, or an estimated $1 billion/year, of the cap and trade auction proceeds to “education for a green economy” and related grant-making programs (such as USP). CEL is coordinating a “1% for Education” campaign to get this provision included in the new Senate climate change bill.


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