Administrator Wheeler Kicks Off Midwest Swing in Minnesota Announcing Environmental Justice Grants, Highlighting Brownfields, Meeting with Agricultural Partners
Stanchfield, Minn. (September 28, 2020) — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler kicked off his Midwest swing in Minnesota with a tour of Brownfield sites in St. Cloud where he announced over $700,000 in a Brownfields 128(a) State and Tribal Grant, and $320,000 in environmental justice grants to the greater Minneapolis area. Administrator Wheeler also joined U.S. Representative Pete Stauber (MN-08) in a meeting with agricultural partners at a local farm.
“Minnesota is at the forefront of environmental innovation and the city of St. Cloud and the Youthprise organization are no exception,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Since 2016, St. Cloud has leveraged Brownfields grants to dramatically redevelop it downtown core and eliminate urban blight, while Youthprise is developing America’s next generation of environmental stewards.”
“These grants will help ensure communities here, and across the state are able to address blight, and redevelop and revitalize their communities,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede. “Addressing environmental justice is a priority of this administration, and this award will help groups like Youthprise address these issues today, and are prepared to lead in the years ahead.
Environmental Justice Grants
Administrator Wheeler announced $320,000 in environmental justice grants for organizations and municipalities in the State of Minnesota. The first grant totaled $120,000 and was awarded to Youthprise as part of the Environmental Justice Community Problem Solving Program. The project will address disparate environmental impacts and empower at-risk youth of color in North Minneapolis, Minn. It is one of 18 grants totaling $2.1 million nationwide for community-led projects in economically and environmentally distressed areas.
The City of Minneapolis has been selected for the second environmental justice grant – totaling $200,000 under the State Environmental Justice Cooperative Agreement Program. This funding specifically aims to help states and tribes improve the environment and public health conditions of low-income and minority communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Funding will be provided once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied.
St. Cloud Brownfields
Administrator Wheeler and Regional Administrator Thiede joined St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis to tour three Brownfields projects that are utilizing $143,000 in EPA Brownfields grants: 5th Avenue Redevelopment, former Tech High School Catalyst Site, and Cooper Avenue and Division Street Catalyst Site. He also announced $731,893 in Brownfields 128(a) State and Tribal Grant to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to build capacity and conduct Brownfields work within the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
"I am grateful to the EPA, Administrator Andrew Wheeler, and to President Trump for this generous award for Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District. This outstanding development and investment in St. Cloud will create a more prosperous community for all residents of Central Minnesota. This would not have been possible without the support and advocacy of Mayor Dave Kleis, and a strong commitment to Minnesota from the EPA," said U.S. Congressman Tom Emmer (MN-06). "I look forward to continue working with them both as we move ahead with these projects."
St. Cloud City Hall currently occupies a 90-year-old former school building at one corner of the primary intersection connecting historic downtown and St. Cloud State University. Private parties are prepared to redevelop City Hall and the adjacent blighted properties into mixed use projects at downtown densities. EPA Brownfields assessment grant funds have been utilized in this Opportunity Zone to assess site and building conditions requiring remediation or removal during redevelopment.
Plans to convert the 100-year-old former Technical High School into City Hall and retain the remaining campus for development and open space were recently finalized using EPA Brownfields assessment grant dollars have been utilized to determine the necessary remediation to the existing site and building during renovation. Re-use of the now vacant building will complement recent reinvestment in Lake George, the adjoining neighborhood, and historic downtown St. Cloud.
“The Brownfields Assessment Grant program has provided the City and developers with vital information to foster redevelopment and investment in catalyst locations throughout the heart of the city,” said St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis.
Over the past five years EPA has awarded Brownfield grants totaling more than $7 million to 11 communities and state agencies in Minnesota. Over that same time span EPA Brownfield funds have been used by Minnesota grantees to:
- Conduct 125 assessments
- Clean up 26 sites
- Prepare 52 properties for redevelopment
- Create or retain 2,986 jobs
- Leverage $180,201,509 for cleanup and redevelopment
Under President Trump, EPA has delivered approximately $287 million in Brownfields grants directly to communities and non-profits in need. In Fiscal Year 2020, 151 communities were selected to receive 155 grants totaling $65.6 million in EPA Brownfields funding through our Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grants. Of the selected communities, 118 can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones.
Farm Visit and FIFRA Grant
Alongside U.S. Representative Pete Stauber (MN-08), the Minnesota Farm Bureau, and Future Farmers of America students, Administrator Wheeler and Regional Administration Thiede toured Don and Shaun Fiedler’s Farm learning about their operations and conservation practices. They also met with local producers to discuss opportunities for future partnership and best conservation practices.
“Acting as good stewards of our land is of the utmost importance to Minnesota’s farmers. That’s why I was happy to join EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler at a farm in Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District to see firsthand the important role local farmers play in preserving the environment and help announce a grant that will protect and empower our farmers as they continue this important work," said U.S. Representative Pete Stauber (MN-08). "Agriculture is one of the top industries in our state, so I commend this Administration for working alongside myself and our farmers to address the issues that are most important to the agriculture community and I look forward to seeing this important partnership continue into the future.”
“Minnesota Farm Bureau appreciates Administrator Wheeler spending time talking directly to farmers in Minnesota. From the RFS to clean water to crop protection tools, the work of EPA has a direct impact on Minnesota farmers and ranchers. We appreciate the Administrator’s commitment to transparency in science and talking to those directly impacted as decisions are made. We look forward to continuing these discussions,” said Minnesota Farm Bureau Vice President Dan Glessing.
While at the farm in Stanchfield, Minn., Administrator Wheeler announced $642,546 to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture under a Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) cooperative agreement to continue implementation of their pesticide regulatory and enforcement programs for Fiscal Year 2021. Under the FIFRA cooperative agreement, Minnesota will protect agricultural workers, surface and ground water resources and endangered species from exposure to pesticides of concern by conducting pesticide use inspections, enforcement, and compliance assistance; train and certify pesticide applicators; conducts education and outreach on pesticides use and regulations; implement pollinator protection activities; conduct surface water and groundwater monitoring for pesticides; and analyze pesticide residues.