EPA Awards Over $250M in Brownfields Grants
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the award of $254.5 million in Brownfields Grants to 265 communities, including four grants totaling $1.6 million across Puerto Rico.
Reported to be the first-ever Brownfields-specific funding awarded under President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law, the program is slated to provide a total of $1.5 billion to advance environmental justice, spur economic revitalization and create jobs by cleaning up contaminated, polluted or hazardous brownfield properties.
“With today’s announcement, we’re turning blight into might for communities across America,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA’s Brownfields Program breathes new life into communities by helping to turn contaminated and potentially dangerous sites into productive economic contributors. Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are significantly ramping up our investments in communities, with the bulk of our funding going to places that have been overburdened and underserved for far too long.”
The Brownfields Program will also advance President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40% of the benefits of certain government programs to disadvantaged communities. Approximately 86% of the communities selected to receive funding as part of today’s announcement have proposed projects in historically underserved areas.
Awarded Brownfields Projects
According to the EPA, Brownfields projects can range from cleaning up buildings with asbestos or lead contamination, to assessing and cleaning up abandoned properties that once managed dangerous chemicals. Following cleanup efforts, former brownfield properties can be redeveloped into productive uses such as grocery stores, affordable housing, health centers, museums, parks and solar farms.
“The brownfields program is a powerful tool that helps overburdened communities in Puerto Rico address local inequities by providing a means to revitalize properties and promote environmental health, economic growth, and job creation,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “The Brownfields program transforms communities, and BIL gives the program a huge shot in the arm – with a historic $1.5 billion dollars that will be leveraged to make a real and lasting on-the-ground difference for communities across the country.”
Communities awarded in Puerto Rico and funding amounts are as follows:
The national list of the applicants selected for funding can be viewed here.
“The EPA Brownfields program is of great value in places like Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, where our development in the twentieth century involved a rapid industrialization, much of it happening before the establishment of our current environmental protection standards,” said Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón.
“Today, four communities in Puerto Rico are awarded funds through this important program to support clean-up efforts. I congratulate the awardees, urge other municipalities to learn and participate, and reiterate my commitment to support and my continued wish for success for EPA and the communities in this joint effort.”
The EPA reports that the Brownfields grant program and other technical assistance programs like the RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative are also helping to build the clean energy economy. Of the total $1.5 billion investment, approximately $180 million will be used to help turn brownfield sites across the nation into hubs of economic growth and job creation, along with more than $75 million from Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations.
The funding includes:
Since its inception in 1995, the EPA reports that its investments in brownfield sites have leveraged more than $35 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. In August, the EPA will host a National Brownfields Training Conference in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.