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Release Date: 06/21/99
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Today, the Clinton Administration is announcing 57 new brownfield demonstration grants, totaling over $11 million, to allow communities to identify and cleanup potential sites and return them to productive use. This announcement brings the total number of brownfield assessment projects to over 300, demonstrating this Administration’s commitment to strengthening the economy and protecting the environment -- making the two work hand-in-hand.

Brownfields are abandoned pieces of land – usually in inner city areas – that have real or perceived contamination from previous industrial use. These sites do not qualify as Superfund toxic waste National Priorities List sites because they do not pose a serious public health risk to the community. However, because of the stigma of contamination and legal barriers to redevelopment, businesses do not buy the land and sites remain roped off, unproductive and vacant. Developers resort to “green” areas outside the city, while the urban centers continue to deteriorate.

Beginning in November 1993, the Clinton Administration has taken a series of actions to clean up and redevelop brownfields to return them to productive reuse in communities across the nation:
    •Creating a national model: U.S. EPA Administrator Carol Browner launched the first Brownfields initiative with a $200,000 grant to Cleveland, Ohio for a pilot project with state and local officials to determine the best way to develop a national model for revitalizing these areas across the country. Since 1993, Cleveland has leveraged $4.5 million for environmental cleanup and redevelopment. Several new businesses have located on the site, over 180 new jobs have been created and payroll tax base improvement alone has netted over $1 million for the local economy.
    Providing the seed money: In January 1995, the Administration committed to fund 50 additional Brownfields Pilot Projects of up to $200,000 each – a pledge that has been met and exceeded with 250 such projects now underway and funded for more than $58 million. The program brings together people who live near contaminated land, businesses that want to get land cleaned up, community leaders, investors, lenders and developers. EPA expects to award up to 100 assessment pilots during FY 99. This seed money has leveraged over $1.4 billion of investment at or near brownfields sites, and has helped create over 3,000 jobs, with thousands more projected..
    Removing the barriers: Since January 1995, the Administration also removed the legal obstacles to development of brownfields sites by taking more than 32,000 sites off the Superfund inventory. Taking these low-priority sites off the list relieves potential developers of unnecessary red tape, removes the stigma of contamination and puts sites on track for redevelopment. In addition, President Clinton, in September 1996, signed a law that protects lenders and government entities by clarifying many of the aspects of Superfund liability which apply to brownfields cleanups.
    Expanding the commitment: In August 1996, President Clinton, in a speech in Kalamazoo, Michigan, made an unprecedented call to expand brownfields grants to communities when he set a goal of more than 5,000 redevelopments in 300 cities. Making good on that commitment, the President requested and Congress appropriated more than $86 million for brownfields in the FY 1998 budget, and an additional $91 million for brownfields in the FY 1999 budget.
    Building a National Partnership: In May 1997, building on Administration actions to revitalize communities, Vice President Gore announced the Brownfields National Partnership Action Agenda – a two-year federal investment of $300 million for brownfields cleanup and redevelopment -- which will leverage from $5 to $28 billion in private investment, help create up to 196,000 new jobs, and save thousands of acres of undeveloped “greenfield” areas from the bulldozer. This two-year effort includes more than 100 commitments from more than 25 organizations – including more than 20 federal agencies – to further spur cleanup and redevelopment at brownfields sites around the U.S.
    Preparing for the future with Showcase Communities: In March 1998, Vice President Gore named 16 Brownfields Showcase Communities – the centerpiece of the Brownfields National Partnership. The 16 communities are eligible to receive Clinton Administration-wide assistance totaling close to $28 million in funding and coordinated technical support from over 20 Federal agencies for environmental cleanup and economic revitalization, and will serve as models for future cooperative efforts in cleaning up and revitalizing brownfields, creating jobs and stimulating local economies.
    Providing tax incentives: In August 1997, President Clinton expanded the Brownfields program by signing into law the Taxpayer Relief Act, which includes a $1.5 billion incentive program that will help revitalize some 14,000 additional brownfields sites. Under the new law, businesses can expense the costs of cleaning up these properties in the year in which the costs are incurred, rather than capitalizing such costs over the life of the property. This will provide a significant financial incentive to restore these areas, so that they can again produce jobs and increase the tax base in communities across the country.
    Capitalizing Growth through Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund Pilots: In September 1997, EPA initiated the Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund (BCRLF) Demonstration Pilots, awarding a $350,000 grant to 23 states, cities and towns to develop their own revolving loan fund which provides a low interest brownfields cleanup revolving loans. These funds -- which capitalize and grow as loans are paid back -- help leverage private investment and provide a significant source of money for brownfields revitalization. In May 1999, the EPA awarded an additional 45 BCRLF Pilot grants, representing 63 communities, at up to $500,000 each.

Workforce Development and Job Training: To insure that those local citizens who have suffered from living near brownfields have an opportunity to compete for the economic benefits created by cleanup and reuse activities, EPA funds environmental job training through 21 grants to community colleges, universities, cities and non-profit organizations. These two-year grants, at up to $200 thousand each, are expected to infuse the workforce with well-prepared, highly qualified environmental employees.
    Proving that Clean Air and Healthy Communities are Compatable through Clean Air/Brownfields Pilots Partnership: In July 1998, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, provided $435,000 to fund Clean Air/Brownfields Partnership Pilots in Baltimore, Chicago and Dallas which are exploring innovative redevelopment strategies that both enhance air quality and allow for economic growth. The pilot projects also will quantify the air quality and other environmental and economic benefits of redeveloping brownfields sites rather than “green spaces,” and to define ways for urban developers to offset emissions from new development. The results of these pilot projects will be used as models for other cities seeking to redevelop brownfields.
    Targeting Reuse with Targeted Brownfields Assessments: Since 1997, EPA has provided more than $14 million to the EPA’s Targeted Brownfields Assessments program, which is designed to help States, Tribes, and municipalities—especially those without EPA Brownfields Pilot Project grants -- with technical assistance to evaluate the extent of contamination. By minimizing the uncertainties of contamination often associated with brownfields, this program opens the door for cleanup and facilitates successful redevelopment such as in Old Town, Maine, where a former manufacturing facility will be replaced with a recreational area.