Biden Admin Invests in Brownfields Cleanup
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced funding to expedite the assessment and cleanup of brownfield sites in the country.
The investments, which total $315 million from President Joe Biden’s Investing in America Agenda, are expected to aid in the advancement of environmental justice. The administration states that the agenda will grow the economy from the “bottom up and middle out,” as well as help in rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.
According to the release, the EPA selected 262 communities to receive 267 grants that total more than $215 million in competitive EPA Brownfields funding through the Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund and Cleanup (MARC) Grant programs. This is reportedly the highest funding level ever announced in the history of the Brownfields Program.
The EPA also included another $45 million non-competitive supplemental funding to 22 successful Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) programs to aid in the expedition of their work through extending the program’s capacity to provide more funding for additional cleanups.
Additionally, the EPA has selected two Brownfields technical assistance opportunities, in which Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) selectees will reportedly provide specialized technical knowledge, research and training to “help stakeholders understand brownfields-related subject matter, and guide them through the brownfield assessment, clean-up, and revitalization process.”
This technical assistance is reportedly available to all stakeholders and comes at zero cost to the communities. Both funding opportunities come from the $1.5 billion investment from the bipartisan infrastructure law and include:
“We’re working across the country to revitalize what were once dangerous and polluted sites in overburdened communities into more sustainable and environmentally just places that serve as community assets. Thanks to President Biden’s historic investments in America, we’re moving further and faster than ever before to clean up contaminated sites, spur economic redevelopment, and deliver relief that so many communities have been waiting for,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.
The EPA expects the brownfield site transformations to attract jobs, promote economic revitalization and “transform communities into sustainable and environmentally just places.” Previously, these communities under economic stress reportedly lacked the resources needed to initiate these cleanups.
The EPA states that the $1.5 billion boost from Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law has allowed the agency to help more communities than before begin to address economic, social and environmental challenges caused by brownfields. They also hope this will help stimulate economic opportunity and environmental revitalization in overburdened communities.
2022 Brownfield Grant Funding
Last year, the EPA 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 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.
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 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.
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.
The national list of the applicants selected for funding last year can be viewed here.