The grants were announced by EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt at the site of a former metal foundry in Milwaukee. The abandoned site is being redeveloped as a light-industry business park.
"Brownfields sites like this are a blight on thousands of cities, towns and rural areas across the country," Leavitt said. "We're helping turn these eyesores into opportunities, bringing new life to communities and cities, everything from new jobs and new housing to new shopping opportunities and new recreational facilities."
Public-private collaborative efforts in Milwaukee have already redeveloped six other Brownfields sites, bringing $13.7 million of new investment into the city and creating or retaining 149 jobs.
Brownfields are sites where expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. In January 2002, President Bush signed the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, which authorizes up to $250 million in funds annually for Brownfields grants. The 2002 law expanded the definition of what's considered a Brownfield, so communities may now focus on mine-scarred lands or sites contaminated by petroleum or the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs.
In all, 219 applicants, including five tribal nations, were selected to receive 265 grants. The $75.4 million will provide:
- 155 assessment grants totaling $37.6 million to be used to conduct planning for eventual cleanup at one or more Brownfield sites or as part of a community-wide effort.
- 92 cleanup grants totaling $16.9 million to provide funding for grant recipients to carry out cleanup activities at Brownfield sites they own.
- 18 revolving loan fund grants totaling $20.9 million to provide funding for communities to capitalize a revolving loan fund and to provide subgrants to carry out cleanup activities at Brownfields sites. Revolving loan funds are generally used to provide low or zero interest loans for Brownfields cleanups.
In March, 16 communities received job training grants totaling $2.47 million to teach environmental-cleanup job skills to 1,080 individuals living in low-income areas near Brownfields sites. To date, more than 60 percent of people completing Brownfields training programs have obtained employment in the environmental field with an average hourly wage of $12.84.
The Brownfields program encourages redevelopment of an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites. Since the beginning of the Brownfields program, EPA has awarded 554 assessment grants totaling over $150 million, 171 revolving loan fund grants totaling over $145 million and 66 cleanup grants totaling $11.4 million.
For more information on the grant recipients, go to www.epa.gov/brownfields.