Council Bluffs, Iowa, Selected to Receive $500K as Biden Administration Announces $254M to Tackle Polluted Brownfield Sites
EPA announces selection of 265 communities to receive Brownfields Assessment, Cleanup, and Revolving Loan Fund Grants to help build a better America while advancing environmental justice
LENEXA, KAN. (MAY 16, 2022) - The Biden administration, through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced that Council Bluffs, Iowa, was selected to receive $500,000 of the $254.5 million in Brownfields grants for 265 selected communities.
Council Bluffs was selected for cleanup of the Former Reliance Battery Site. These grants are supported by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a total of $1.5 billion to advance environmental justice, spur economic revitalization, and create jobs by cleaning up contaminated, polluted, or hazardous brownfield properties.
Brownfield projects can range from cleaning up buildings with asbestos or lead contamination to assessing and cleaning up abandoned properties that once managed dangerous chemicals. Once cleaned up, former brownfield properties can be redeveloped into productive uses, such as grocery stores, affordable housing, health centers, museums, parks, and solar farms.
The Brownfields program advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40% of the benefits of certain government programs to disadvantaged communities. Approximately 86% of the communities selected to receive funding as part of today’s announcement have proposed projects in historically underserved areas.
“With today’s announcement, we’re turning blight into might for communities across America,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA’s Brownfields program breathes new life into communities by helping to turn contaminated and potentially dangerous sites into productive economic contributors. Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are significantly ramping up our investments in communities, with the bulk of our funding going to places that have been overburdened and underserved for far too long.”
“EPA Region 7 is proud to announce the selection of the city of Council Bluffs for a Brownfields grant,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Meghan A. McCollister. “The Brownfields program has a proven record of empowering communities through benefits ranging from local job creation to increased property values. This investment will uplift Council Bluffs and provide measurable and meaningful change to those who live in the community.”
“The city of Council Bluffs is honored to be a recipient of an EPA Brownfields Cleanup Grant,” said Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh. “This is a highly competitive, regional grant that we worked hard to obtain. This grant will have a positive impact on our community by transforming sites from hazardous to redevelopment assets that will enhance existing neighborhoods and improve the quality of life and attractiveness of Council Bluffs.”
“A former battery plant site in Council Bluffs contaminated with lead and other hazardous materials will now be cleaned up with grant money I helped secure in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law late last year,” said U.S. Representative Cindy Axne (Iowa). “This kind of project to support redevelopment and clean up our environment at the same time is exactly why I was proud to vote for the infrastructure bill, and I am pleased to see this money continue to be used right here in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.”
EPA’s Brownfields grants and other technical assistance programs, like the RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative, are also helping to build the clean energy economy. Today’s announcement includes a former coal mine in Greene County, Pennsylvania, that will become a 10-megawatt solar farm, and a former dump site in the Fort Belknap Indian Community in Montana that will be converted to a solar farm, saving local residents an estimated $2.8 million in energy costs over 25 years, among many others.
Today's announcement includes approximately $180 million from the historic $1.5 billion investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help turn brownfield sites across the nation into hubs of economic growth and job creation, along with over $75 million from fiscal year 2022 appropriations.
The funding includes:
- $112.8 million for 183 selectees for Assessment Grants, which will provide funding for brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessments, and community outreach.
- $18.2 million for 36 selectees for Cleanup Grants, which will provide funding to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites owned by the recipient.
- $16.3 million for 17 selectees for Revolving Loan Fund Grants, which will provide funding for recipients to offer loans and subgrants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites.
- $107 million for 39 high-performing Revolving Loan Fund Grant recipients to help communities continue their work to carry out cleanup and redevelopment projects on contaminated brownfield properties. Supplemental funding for Revolving Loan Fund Grants is available to recipients that have depleted their funds and have viable cleanup projects ready for work.
The list of selected applicants is available online.
Since its inception in 1995, EPA’s investments in brownfield sites have leveraged over $35 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example:
- To date, this funding has led to over 183,000 jobs in cleanup, construction and redevelopment, and over 9,500 properties have been made ready for reuse.
- Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged on average $20.43 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfields Grant funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.
- In addition, an academic peer-reviewed study found that residential properties near brownfield sites increased in value by 5% to 15% as a result of cleanup activities.
- Finally, analyzing data near 48 brownfields, EPA found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup – two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those Brownfields sites.
“EPA’s Brownfields program is the true embodiment of turning adversity into opportunity – it takes contaminated and potentially hazardous places and turns them into thriving generators of economic prosperity,” said Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Chairman Tom Carper. “Today’s announcement is great news for the nation, as we unveil vital investments from our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help more communities benefit from this transformative program.”
“Today’s announcement is welcome news for the 149 million Americans who live within 3 miles of a brownfield site,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone. “These funds, predominantly from our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will allow families across the country to rest a little easier, knowing that some of the most contaminated sites in their area will soon be cleaned up, revitalized, and generating new jobs and economic opportunities. I’m grateful to Administrator Regan and the Biden administration for working so closely with Congress to prioritize the Brownfields program, and I’ll keep fighting to ensure every community – particularly those that have been historically overlooked and underserved – receives the resources they need.”
“Last year, President Biden signed the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law, which provided once-in-a-lifetime investment that is fundamentally transforming our critical infrastructure,” said House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio. “This Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also included significant funding to EPA’s Brownfields program for the cleanup of legacy toxic contamination that scars our communities with hazardous, blighted, or underutilized properties and threatens the health of our families and our environment. The grants being announced today continue the successful tradition of the Brownfields remediation program, while targeting resources to those communities, both urban and rural, that haven’t been able to participate in the program due to lack of local-technical capacity or lack of local matching resources.”
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. Redevelopment made possible through the program includes everything from grocery stores and affordable housing to health centers, museums, greenways, and solar farms.
The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held August 16-19, 2022, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing former commercial and industrial properties. EPA co-sponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Conference registration is open online.
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