June 2020 – US EPA Announces 155 Grants for Communities to Receive Over $65 Million in Grant Funding for Brownfield Assessments and Cleanups

US EPA Announces 155 Grants for Communities to Receive Over $65 Million in Grant Funding for Brownfield Assessments and Cleanups

On May 6, 2020, The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) announced the selection of 155 grants for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in US EPA brownfields funding through the agency’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant programs. These US EPA grant programs are designed to support community revitalization in under-served and economically disadvantaged communities. The Brownfields Program has supported many successful projects around the country, and Environmental Standards is proud to have been a part of many successful redevelopments. Our projects have included the Philadelphia Fresh Produce Market, the Ambler Boiler House, in Ambler, Pennsylvania, Belomar Regional Council, in Ohio and Marshall Counties in West Virginia and Belmont County in Ohio; and Waynesboro, Virginia’s Downtown Area, among others. For the 2020 round of grant awards, Environmental Standards assisted the Montgomery County Economic Development Authority, and the City of Waynesboro, Virginia in preparing grants and obtaining additional funding for their continued brownfields programs. 

In announcing the grants, US EPA’s Andrew Wheeler stated that, “Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfield Program provide communities and tribes across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets. Under President Trump’s leadership, EPA has delivered approximately $287 million in Brownfield grants directly to communities and nonprofits for cleanup and redevelopment, job creation, and economic development through the award of over 948 grants.”

Of the communities selected this year, 118 can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones. Opportunity Zones were a particular area of focus for this year’s awards. An Opportunity Zone is a designated economically distressed census tract where new private investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. More than 70-percent of the communities selected are repeat awardees for brownfields funding.

Communities that previously received brownfields grants used these resources to fund assessments and cleanups of brownfields and, according to the US EPA, leveraged 8.5 jobs per $100,000 of US EPA brownfield grant funds spent.

US EPA and award community data suggest that brownfields grant funding:

  • Increases Local Tax Revenue: A US EPA study of 48 brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million US EPA contributed to the cleanup of those sites.
  • Increase Residential Property Values: Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized brownfields sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.

A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the United States. US EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $1.6 billion in brownfield grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. To date, brownfields investments have leveraged more than $31 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding, from both public and private sources, leveraged more than 160,000 jobs.

The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on April 26-30, 2021, in Oklahoma City. Offered every 2 years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing former commercial and industrial properties. US EPA co‑sponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.  For more on US EPA’s Brownfields Program, visit: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields. For more information, feel free to contact Gerry Kirkpatrick at gkirkpatrick@envstd.com.

Gerry Kirkpatrick

Managing Partner