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This Earth Day, President Joe Biden announced $7 million in solar grant funding to deliver residential solar power to close to one million low-income households.

The grant program, made available through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Solar for All grants, will save each recipient household about $400 a year while also avoiding 30 million metric tons of carbon pollution in the next quarter century, according to the agency. 

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Throughout this week, the Biden-Harris Administration said it will announce additional actions in support of Earth Day: Tuesday will focus on helping ensure clean water for all communities; Wednesday will focus on accelerating America’s clean transportation future; Thursday will focus on steps to cut pollution from the power sector while strengthening America’s electricity grid; and Friday will focus on providing cleaner air and healthier schools for all children.

Earth Day is an American “holiday” first created in 1970 by Senator Gaylord Nelson as a way to galvanize Americans around protecting an increasingly polluted environment. The Senator recruited activist Denis Hayes to help organize the campus lectures. Together the two choose April 22, a weekday falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, to maximize the greatest student participation.

As a result, twenty million Americans demonstrated in U.S. cities from coast to coast. In late 1970, Congress created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to specifically focus on such issues, and more than a dozen laws still in place today followed, such as the Clean Air Act and the National Environmental Policy Act. Currently, more than 190 countries celebrate some version of Earth Day.

“The Environmental Revolution has altered our physical surroundings,” Gaylord Nelson wrote in an op-ed ten years after the first Earth Day was enacted. “Beyond that, it has worked remarkable changes in government, law, politics and economics. It has reshaped many people’s philosophy of life and scale of values. In very practical terms, the Environmental Revolution is lengthening lives and lessening human misery by reducing the poisons in our air, water, and soil. Perhaps most importantly of all in a way not too many people have noted, the Environmental Revolution has revitalized the democratic process.

This year, Earth Day’s theme is “Planet vs. Plastics, and group organizers are calling for a 60% reduction in plastic use by 2040. Research is finding that plastics break down into tiny fragments called microplastics, which leach out toxic plastic chemicals. Those toxic plastic chemicals are associated with a wide range of human health issues from Alzheimer’s to strokes to male infertility to obesity.

Plastics in one form or another have contaminated our soil, our air and our water,” said Earth Day.org’s Kathleen Rogers.“Plastics are in our food chain and by default, inside all of us, and we are inhaling them in from the air we breathe. It’s important that the public knows this and that we bring this crucial issue to the forefront of consumers’ minds.”

To participate in an Earth Day event near you, visit https://www.earthday.org

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