News Releases from Region 04
Columbia to Receive Brownfield Grants to Address Contaminated Properties
Columbia, Tenn. - (June 5, 2019) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected 149 communities across the country including Columbia, Tennessee. to receive funding for brownfield site revitalization to help local governments redevelop vacant and unused properties, transforming communities and local economies.
“These grants fulfill several of President Trump’s top priorities simultaneously: helping communities in need transform contaminated sites into community assets that not only create jobs and jumpstart economic development but also improve public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are targeting these funds to areas that need them the most. Approximately 40 percent of the selected recipients are receiving Brownfields grants for the first time, which means we are reaching areas that may previously been neglected, and 108 of the selected communities have identified sites or targeted areas for redevelopment that fall within Opportunity Zones.”
“Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup grants provide communities with an opportunity to convert contaminated sites into community assets that will attract jobs, encourage partnerships and achieve broader economic development outcomes,” said Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker.
The city of Columbia has been selected for a $300,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant ($200,000 for hazardous substances and $100,000 for petroleum) targeting the A.J. Morton Funeral Home, tobacco warehouse, and vacant dry cleaner sites in the downtown target area composed of Census Tracts 105, 106 and 107. Community-wide hazardous substances grant funds will be used to conduct two Phase I and two Phase II environmental site assessments at priority sites, an additional 10 Phase I and four Phase II environmental site assessments at other sites in the city’s downtown area, and develop four cleanup plans. Community-wide petroleum grant funds will also used to conduct two Phase I and two Phase II environmental site assessments at priority sites, an additional five Phase I and one Phase II environmental site assessments at other sites in the city’s downtown area, and develop one cleanup plan. Grant funds of both types also will be used to establish a secondary brownfields inventory and conduct community outreach activities.
One hundred and eight communities selected for grants this year have identified sites or targeted areas in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.
“I am truly excited to join as EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announces over $64 million in Brownfield funding,” said Scott Turner, Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. “The Brownfields grant program is a tremendous vehicle for bringing real revitalization and transformation to the distressed communities of America. As the Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council I am pleased that EPA continues to support the Council and the President’s work in this area. In fact, of the 149 communities selected for these grants, 108 will benefit communities with Opportunity Zones. I look forward to seeing the impact that these grants will have on neighborhoods and citizens across the country.”
Overview of the Funds Being Announced Today:
The communities selected for brownfields funding this year include:
- Geographically diverse set of communities:
- 149 communities across the country in all 10 EPA regions.
- Diverse types of communities:
- 19% of selected proposals are in urban areas,
- 81% of selected proposals are in non-urban areas (population of 100,000 or less),
- 40% of the grants will go to the smallest of communities with populations of 10,000 or less.
- And, new communities that have never received brownfields funding before:
- 40% of selected communities are receiving brownfields funding for the first time.
Brownfields grants have been shown to increase local tax revenue and residential property values. A study of 48 brownfields sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these sites. Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized brownfields sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.
As of May 2019, under the EPA Brownfields Program 30,153 properties have been assessed, and 86,131 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use. In addition, communities have been able to use Brownfields grants to leverage 150,120 jobs and more than $28 billion of public and private funding.
A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. As of May 2019, under the EPA Brownfields Program 30,153 properties have been assessed, and 86,131 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use. In addition, communities have been able to use Brownfields grants to leverage 150,120 jobs and more than $28 billion of public and private funding.
In 2018 Congress reauthorized the statutory authority for the Brownfields Program. The reauthorization included changes to the program to expand the list of entities eligible for Brownfields grants, increase the limit of individual Brownfields cleanup grants to $500,000, and add grant authority for Multipurpose grants. These important changes will help communities address and cleanup more complex brownfield sites.
The 2019 National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on December 11-13 in Los Angeles, California. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties. EPA cosponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.
List of the FY 2019 Applicants Selected for Funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy19-brownfields-multipurpose-assessment-and-cleanup-grants
Today EPA is also publishing a new booklet highlighting the accomplishments of EPA Brownfield Grant recipients around the country titled: Brownfields: Properties with New Purpose, Improving Local Economies in Communities with Brownfield Sites. You can read and download the booklet here: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-06/documents/bf_booklet.pdf
For more on the Brownfields Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding