EPA issues $56.8M to redevelop vacant and unused properties across the country
DALLAS (May 31, 2017) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Austin, Texas, is one of 172 communities across the country selected to receive funding for brownfield site revitalization efforts. A total of approximately $56.8 million will fund selected recipients for brownfield site assessments and clean up. These initial steps towards redeveloping vacant and unused properties help transform the sites to productive reuse, benefiting the community and the local economy.
“EPA is committed to working with communities to redevelop Brownfields sites which have plagued their neighborhoods. EPA’s Assessment and Cleanup grants target communities that are economically disadvantaged and include places where environmental cleanup and new jobs are most needed,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These grants leverage considerable infrastructure and other investments, improving local economies and creating an environment where jobs can grow. I am very pleased the President’s budget recognizes the importance of these grants by providing continued funding for this important program.”
“EPA brownfields grants help communities turn abandoned sites into economic drivers,” Acting Regional Administrator Sam Coleman said. “Transforming these sites benefits local economies, communities and the environment.”
“Every dollar towards brownfields clean-up in the Eastern Crescent gives back $16 in jobs and economic opportunities for the community. These new EPA grants will finally address environmental justice while providing economic equity for that area of town,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said.
“This kind of remediation effort is a win for the owner, a win for the community and a win for the local economy,” says TCEQ Chairman Bryan W. Shaw, Ph.D. “The EPA and the City of Austin are to be commended for their vision in conducting this ultimate form of recycling.”
The goal of the project is to increase the number of parks and community gardens, while providing access to recreation, nature and affordable food. The environmental benefits from lower carbon emissions will help alleviate diabetes, heart disease, and obesity and asthma rates. The improved housing, parks and gardens will also improve health outcomes which will translate into reduced medical costs for treating chronic illnesses.
Austin received two grants totaling $300,000: a $200,000 hazardous substances assessment grant and a $100,000 petroleum assessment grant. Both will be used to fund environmental site assessments and create cleanup plans. Both grants will also be used for a range of community outreach activities.
Approximately $17.5 million of the assessment and cleanup funding announced today will benefit small and rural communities with populations less than 10,000. Approximately $25 million will go to communities who are receiving assessment and cleanup funding for the first time. Selected recipients will each receive approximately $200,000 – $600,000 in funding to work on individual sites or several sites within their community. These funds will provide communities with resources necessary to determine the extent of site contamination, remove environmental uncertainties and clean up contaminated properties where needed. Brownfields assessment and cleanup activities bring sites strides closer to realizing their full potential, while protecting public health and the environment.
Addressing and cleaning up sites across the nation will ultimately boost local economies and leverage redevelopment jobs while protecting public health and the environment. Brownfield sites are community assets because of their locations and associated infrastructure advantages. Studies have shown that residential property values near brownfields sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15.2%. The study also determined that brownfield cleanup can increase overall property values within a one-mile radius. A study analyzing data near 48 brownfield sites shows that an estimated $29 to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup. This is 2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million the EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfields.
There are an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites in America. As of May 2017, more than 124,759 jobs and $24 billion of public and private funding has been leveraged as a result of assessment grants and other EPA brownfields grants. On average, $16.11 was leveraged for each EPA brownfields dollar and 8.5 jobs leveraged per $100,000 of EPA brownfields funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.
List of the FY 2017 applicants selected for funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfield
More on EPA’s brownfields program: https://epa.gov/brownfields
More on successful Brownfields stories: https://www.epa.gov/brownfield