Gibbs Faculty Awarded Grant to Work With Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality

Regional and City Planning faculty John Harris and Charlie Warnken are part of an interdisciplinary team led by the OU Institute for Resilient Environment and Energy Systems. The team was recently awarded a $599,000 Climate Pollution Reduction Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. As a part of the Inflation Reduction Act and the Justice40 Initiative, these grants from the EPA support the development and implementation of plans to reduce harmful air pollution. 

With this funding, the OU team will support the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality to prepare a climate action plan that will reduce emissions in communities across the state. Climate action plans are comprised of three main parts: an inventory of emission sources, a catalogue of current and future experiences of climate impacts in communities and a series of proposals to mitigate these emissions and climate impacts.  

The team is led by Principal Investigator Tim Filley, who is assisted by Co-Principal Investigators Lauren Mullenbach, Scott Greene, Charlie Warnken, John Harris, Chenghao Wang, Ming Xue, Xiaoming Hu, Royce Floyd, Brad Illston, David Ebert, Binbin Weng, Otavio Costa Acevedo, Petra Klein and Xiangming Xiao. They are currently developing various project proposals in the following categories:  

  • Electricity generation and consumption—the ways we generate energy and use it 
  • Industry efficiency and safety—upgrades to industries that decrease pollution or positively impact the health and wellbeing of communities 
  • Transportation efficiency and pollution reduction—including mass transit, electric vehicles, bicycles and pedestrian paths 
  • Buildings—including energy audits for households, building upgrades that improve energy efficiency and severe weather safety   
  • Agriculture/natural and working lands—including wildfire management, urban forestry and urban heat island effects 
  • Waste management—issues related to improved stormwater, wastewater and solid waste treatment in communities 

Harris and Warnken’s portion of the project focuses on engaging low-income and disadvantaged communities. The RCPL faculty are also working with graduate students from OU’s Planning, Landscape Architecture and Design division. As a part of their community planning studio, the students are conducting workshops throughout the state to gain a better understanding of climate impacts on local communities and how to address these issues accordingly.

The students began these community workshops in November and will continue into February. The students will then compile a series of reports about these communities for submission to the DEQ.