Just in the nick of time, brownfields are getting a much needed shot in the arm through an ambitious grants and jobs growth initiative that was outlined last Wednesday during a webinar entitled “Federal Brownfields Incentives: New Opportunities in an Evolving Regulatory Landscape.”
The event was moderated by David R. Lloyd, Director of the Office of Brownfields Cleanup and Redevelopment in the U.S. EPA Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, who has been in this position since 2006.
Co-moderating along with Lloyd were: Nicholas William Targ, Esq. Holland & Knight LLP, San Francisco, Calif; Christine M. Leas, Sive, Paget & Riesel, P.C., New York, N.Y.; and Karin Leff, Acting Director, Regional Support Division, Office of Site Remediation Enforcement, U.S. EPA.
The panel revealed several key objectives going into 2012 for brownfields, including the desire to remain responsive to the Obama administration’s initiatives as well as to expand the environmental workforce development and job training program.
Additionally, the intent will be to:
• Integrate a strategic approach in our technical assistance and grant processes;
• Strengthen coordination across the Brownfield program teams;
• Strengthen land revitalization efforts across OSWER programs with a focus on disadvantaged and tribal communities;
• Protect and cultivating abilities to drive inter-agency partnerships and initiatives; and
• Gather and organizing the quantitative data that helps define the program.
Spelled out in the webinar were details for distribution of assessment grants (available starting last month), which will provide funding for:
• Inventory, characterize, and assess sites;
• Cleanup and redevelopment planning;
• Conduct community involvement;
• Conduct area wide planning activities;
Eligibility for these grants includes: state, local, and tribal governments, general purpose units of local government, land clearance authorities, quasi-governmental entities, and regional council or redevelopment agencies.
The funding terms cap activities to $200,000 to assess properties contaminated by hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants. The ceiling is also held at $200,000 to assess properties contaminated with petroleum. For site-specific proposals, applicants may seek a waiver and request up to $350,000, as well as up to $1 million for assessment coalitions.
RLF grants were also activated in September, and will provide funding to capitalize a revolving loan fund to make low interest loans and sub-grants to clean up brownfields sites. Eligible are state, local, and tribal governments; general purpose units of local government; land clearance authorities; quasi- governmental entities; and regional council or redevelopment agencies.
The RLF funding is up to $1 million per eligible entity, and requires a 20% match (money, labor, materials, or in-kind services for eligible and allowable costs).
Cleanup grants are also part of the package, and also became available in September, with the goal of providing funding to clean up brownfields sites. Eligibility entitles include:
• State, local, and tribal governments;
• General purpose units of local government;
• Land clearance authorities;
• Quasi-governmental entities;
• Regional Council or redevelopment agencies;
• Non-profit organizations;
• All entities must own the site they plan to cleanup to be eligible;
The funding terms for cleanup grants is capped at $200,000 per eligible entity per site and can apply for funding to clean up as many as three sites. It also requires 20% match (money, labor, materials, or in-kind services for eligible and allowable costs).
Multi-purpose grants were also outlined and will be available starting this winter. These grants provide funding for the purpose of:
• Inventory, characterize, and assessing brownfield sites;
• Cleaning up and redevelopment planning;
• Community involvement;
• Area wide planning activities; and
• Cleanup of brownfields sites.
The funding is capped at $200,000 for assessment activities ($350,000 with waiver) and the ceiling is $200,000 for cleanup activities. It also requires 20% match on the cleanup portion of the funding (money, labor, materials, or in-kind services for eligible and allowable costs).
The Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grants, which will be available in November, will provide funding to train residents of communities affected by brownfields for future employment in environmental fields. This will empower cleanup of contaminated sites, health and safety, recycling center operator training, green building design, energy efficiency, weatherization, solar installation, construction and demolition debris recycling, emergency response, and native plant re-vegetation.
Those eligible include: state, local, and tribal governments; colleges and universities; community job training organizations; and non-profit organizations and training centers. The funding is up to $300,000 per eligible entity. State and Tribal Response Program Grants were also part of the Federal Brownfields package.
During the webinar, the panel cited several program accomplishments that have been made as of late September, and over a four-year period from 2006 through 2010. These accomplishments included: The assessment of 17,624 properties, leveraging 662 jobs and $17.5 billion devoted towards cleanup and redevelopment funds leveraged ($18.68 for every EPA Brownfields dollar). Additionally, state and tribal program saw 46,000 sites enrolled; 56,000 cleaned; and 549,000 acres placed back into productive reuse