PEABODY — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced over $5 million in grant funding to 34 cities and towns across the Commonwealth, including two SouthCoast communities, for projects to improve their resilience to climate change through Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program Action Grants.

This is the second phase of the grant and designation program, which builds on Governor Baker’s Executive Order 569, as well as other administration-led state and local partnerships and is intended to build on outcomes from a state-funded and community-driven comprehensive assessment of municipal climate change hazards. The 34 Action Grant awardees, representing about 10 percent of municipalities across all regions of the Commonwealth, were announced by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito as part of a tour of a project site in Peabody.

“Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grants play a critical role in helping communities protect their residents, infrastructure and natural resources from the impacts of climate change,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We’re pleased to work with local officials and our partners in the Legislature on important grant programs like this and look forward to our continued collaboration on the administration’s Environmental Bond Bill, which includes over $300 million to help the Commonwealth prepare for and protect against the impacts of climate change.”

“These grants build on the planning stage of the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program by investing in on-the-ground, proactive projects to address the specific vulnerabilities to climate change identified by each municipality,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The funding and support provided through this program will build more resilient communities that are better prepared for extreme weather, drought, floods, sea level rise and other challenges.”

The administration has now committed over $7 million over two years to help communities prepare for climate change and build resilience through the MVP Program, including $2 million announced earlier this week for 82 communities to complete a climate change vulnerability planning process. Governor Baker’s Environmental Bond Bill would also authorize $15 million for future rounds of the MVP Program.

To participate in the MVP program, communities first apply for Planning Grants, which are used to complete a community-based workshop process to identify key climate-related hazards, vulnerabilities and strengths, and prioritize next steps to address climate change impacts. Upon successful completion of the planning process, municipalities are designated as a “Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program community.” Designated MVP communities can then apply for MVP Action Grants to implement key priorities and projects identified through the planning process. These projects include follow-up vulnerability assessments, design studies, local bylaws and ordinances, redesigns and retrofits, natural infrastructure and storm protection, and education and outreach.

“The Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program was designed to allow the state to work together with municipalities to identify areas of weakness and then employ nature-based, cost-effective solutions to address those vulnerabilities,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The funds awarded from the MVP Action Grant program will allow municipalities to implement crucial measures to prepare for the effects of climate change while strengthening community engagement and collaboration among town departments.”

The program is led by an experienced Project Coordinator from the town with a core team of town staff and volunteers representing town planning departments, emergency managers, conservation commissioners, economic councils, the business community and other key stakeholders. There are currently 156 MVP communities across the state, representing 43 percent of the state’s municipalities.

The MVP Action Grants were open to all municipal governments in Massachusetts in FY 2018 that have received MVP designation. Projects that proposed nature-based solutions or strategies that rely on green infrastructure or conservation and enhancement of natural systems to improve community resilience received higher scores.

Two SouthCoast communities will receive funding to complete the planning process. New Bedford will receive $165,120 in funding to complete the Comprehensive Climate Adaptation and Resilience Action Plan and Interactive Community Dashboard. Wareham will receive $62,735 to complete Climate Change Flood Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Planning.

To further assist communities in planning for climate change impacts, the Baker-Polito Administration recently launched a new website, the resilient MA Climate Clearinghouse, to provide communities access to the best science and data on expected climate change impacts, information on planning and actions communities can deploy to build resiliency and avoid loss, and links to important grant programs and technical assistance. The site, which was built with data developed through a partnership between EEA, the Northeast Climate Center at UMass-Amherst and the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, provides access to statewide climate change projections showing how temperature, precipitation and sea level rise will change through the end of the century, which any user can overlay with other data of interest, including information on emergency facilities, infrastructure and natural resources.

As part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to combat and prepare for climate change, Governor Baker recently filed legislation to authorize over $1.4 billion in capital allocations for investments in safeguarding residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, protecting environmental resources, and investing in communities. The legislation would put into law essential components of Governor Baker’s Executive Order 569, which established an integrated strategy for climate change adaptation across the Commonwealth, including the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program and the Statewide Hazard Mitigation and Adaptation Plan – a blueprint to protect residents, communities, and local economies. The funding available through these grant programs builds upon the Baker-Polito Administration’s ongoing efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

--Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs