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EPA at 50: Transforming and Revitalizing Communities by Cleaning Up Brownfields

07/13/2020
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (July 13, 2020) — This week, as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 50th anniversary commemoration, EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management is highlighting the agency’s Brownfields program and successes in revitalizing underserved and economically disadvantaged communities.

Over the past three years alone, EPA has assessed 6,572 properties, completed cleanups at 638 properties, and made 2,900 properties ready for anticipated reuse. Over this same period, more than 43,000 jobs have been leveraged as a result of Brownfields actions.

EPA recently announced the selection of 155 grants for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA Brownfields funding through the agency’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Programs.118 of the communities and tribes selected can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones.

“Without redevelopment opportunities, urban and rural communities – even those with deep historic roots – can eventually wither,” said OLEM Assistant Administrator Peter Wright. “Brownfields remediation and revitalization supports communities by investing in the redevelopment of existing properties in the community.”

Since EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995, it has provided nearly $1.6 billion in Brownfield funding to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse.  EPA’s Brownfields funding has leveraged more than $32.6 billion in cleanup and redevelopment from both public and private sources, which in turn has produced more than 167,000 jobs. This is an average of nine jobs per $100,000 of EPA investment and more than $17 in private funding for each dollar of EPA Brownfield grant funding.

For example, Brownfields grants have been shown to:

  • Increase Local Tax Revenue: 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.
  • Increase Residential Property Values: Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized Brownfields sites increased between 5 and 15 percent following cleanup.

Background:

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. The Brownfields program empowers local leadership and communities to transform underused and distressed properties into community assets across America. Brownfields funds assess and cleanup vacant, underused and potentially contaminated properties so that property can be reused as housing, recreation and open space, health facilities, social services, or commercial sites. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 Brownfields in the United States. 

EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management provides policy, guidance and direction for the Agency's emergency response and waste programs.

For more information on EPA’s Brownfields program, grantees’ success stories, and studies, visit https://www.epa.gov/brownfields.

Follow us throughout July on Twitter @EPALand for the latest information on what’s happening as “Cleaning Up America’s Land” month continues.

For more on EPA’s 50th Anniversary and how the agency is protecting America’s waters, land and air, visit: https://www.epa.gov/50, or follow us on social media using #EPAat50.