EPA Administrator Wheeler Visits Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania
PITTSBURGH (October 7, 2020) — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler concluded a multi-stop swing through northeast Ohio and western Pennsylvania where he announced new efforts to restore the Great Lakes, toured Brownfields redevelopment sties, and participated in a Smart Sectors roundtable event.
“EPA is working with state and local partners to make a difference in the lives of people across Ohio and Pennsylvania,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Whether its cleaning up rivers that flow into the Great Lakes, seeing how Brownfield grants are used to improve the lives of Americans in polluted communities, or hearing how the Smart Sectors program helps small businesses better deal with regulation, the agency is listening and fulfilling its mission of protecting human health and the environment.”
“We are very proud of our accomplishments while serving as good stewards of the Great Lakes, and working with our partners across the region to protect and preserve these national treasures,” said Regional Administrator Kurt Thiede. “In working to redevelop and reclaim these brownfields, we have always operated with a focus on developing and strengthening our partnerships with the communities we serve, and we’re proud of what we’ve been able to do here together with the state of Ohio. This collaborative effort in remediation and restoration work is contributing to revitalization in the communities across the state, and bring dramatic improvement in the region’s environment.”
Administrator Wheeler began his day by delivering remarks at U.S. Coast Guard Station Cleveland Harbor where he made a number of announcements highlighting EPA restoration efforts for the Great Lakes. He was joined by U.S. Congressman David Joyce (OH-14), Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agriculture Service Bill Northey, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Dan Simmons, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science Tim Petty, Ohio State Senate President Larry Obhof (OH-22), State Senator Matt Dolan (OH-24), U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Jeremy Maginot, and Ohio Lake Erie Commission Executive Director Joy Mulinex.
“I was proud to join Administrator Wheeler, a fellow Buckeye, in Northeast Ohio this morning to make several important announcements that impact our region and highlight the progress we’ve made – as well as our ongoing efforts – to restore and protect the Great Lakes,” said Congressman Dave Joyce, Co-Chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force. “As someone who grew up on Ohio’s north coast, I know that the Great Lakes are not only a national treasure and economic powerhouse, but also one of our country’s greatest natural resources. It is critical that we continue to do all we can to keep the lakes clean for the millions of Americans who depend on them and preserve them for future generations to enjoy.”
“Today’s announcement is welcome news for many Ohio communities along Lake Erie, and I appreciate the priority that the Trump administration has placed on reclaiming and restoring these areas,” said Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina). “We share their commitment to keeping our waterways and shorelines free from pollution and safe for all Ohioans.”
In his remarks, Administrator Wheeler announced that the final beneficial use impairment was removed from the Ashtabula Area of Concern (AOC) last month and now Ohio can initiate the AOC delisting process. Over $67 million dollars was spent to remediate sediment and restore habitat on the Ashtabula River starting in the mid-2000s. Additionally, Administrator Wheeler announced the successful completion of the final management action in the Black River AOC, which occurred last month. This final project will improve water quality and restore habitat for birds and other wildlife by grading and covering over 35 acres of slag piles along City of Lorain-owned property along the river. More than $24 million dollars was spent over the past decade on reclamation of the Black River.
He also announced that EPA and the State of Ohio agreed on the final list of critical management actions necessary to remove the remaining seven beneficial use impairments for the Cuyahoga River AOC.
Read more about today’s announcements here: https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/epa-administrator-wheeler-announces-significant-progress-three-great-lakes-areas-0
Following the Great Lakes restoration announcements, Administrator Wheeler attended a briefing in Ashtabula, Ohio with Congressman Joyce and Ohio Senate President Obhof on cleanup and restoration efforts for the Ashtabula AOC.
Administrator Wheeler then viewed Brownfields sites in Youngstown, Ohio joined U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson (OH-06), Ohio Senate President Obhof, State Senator Michael Rulli (OH-33), State Senator Frank Hoagland (OH-30), Youngstown Mayor Jamel Tito Brown, and other local officials. While on the tour, he emphasized the success stories of Brownfield grants to local communities and the economic and environmental benefits that come with redevelopment. From 2016 through 2020 EPA has awarded 31 brownfield grants totaling $11,556,000 to communities, non-profit organizations and local governmental bodies in Ohio. This includes four new grants totaling $2,475,000 awarded this year.
EPA Brownfield funds have been used by Ohio grantees to:
- Conduct 525 assessments
- Clean up 21 sites
- Prepare 224 properties for redevelopment
- Create or retain 2,242 jobs
- Leverage $395 Million for cleanup and redevelopment
- 23 of the grants, representing $8,981,000 in total funding, went to communities in, or adjacent to, Opportunity Zones.
“Today’s visit by Administrator Wheeler highlighted previously awarded EPA Brownfields funding and redevelopment, and shows what is possible when the federal government works with local agencies and groups rather than throwing up Washington regulations and roadblocks,” said U.S Congressman Bill Johnson (OH-6). “There are many of these brownfield sites in Eastern and Southeastern Ohio, including the site of the potential ethane cracker plant in Belmont County. Thank you to Mr. Wheeler and his team for their commitment to both the environment, and for leading on repurposing sites for new, productive, economic growth uses.“
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.
Administrator Wheeler then visited the Gordon Terminal Service Co. in McKees Rocks, Penn. for a tour hosted by the International Liquid Terminals Association with EPA Region 3 Administrator Cosmo Servidio. After the tour, Administrator Wheeler announced a new EPA proposal providing regulatory flexibility for owners and operators of certain liquid storage tanks to comply with Clean Air Act (CAA) regulations. The proposed amendment will reduce burdens for the industry and make ‘in-service’ inspections of certain large storage tanks filled with liquids more widely available under CAA regulations.
The day concluded at the Frank Bryan Concrete Factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where Administrator Wheeler took part in a Smart Sectors roundtable discussion with the Pennsylvania Aggregates and Concrete Association (PACA). He was also joined by State Senator Camera Bartolotta (PA-46), State Representative Joshua Kail (PA-15), Allegheny Count At Large Council Representative Samuel DeMarco, PACA President and CEO Peter Vlahos, and factory owner Frank Bryan.
During the roundtable, Administrator Wheeler touted the success of the Smart Sectors program, a voluntary partnership program launched in 2017 that improves collaboration with regulated stakeholders. He then announced a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with PACA that will enable the sharing of useful environmental practices by PACA members and improve environmental stewardship and outcomes at PACA members’ facilities and surrounding areas.
“This agreement builds on the actions our agencies are taking together and with the broader concrete and aggregate community to promote a vibrant economy, clean air, clean water and unprecedented environmental stewardship,” said Cosmo Servidio, EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator. “This MOU formalizes our work together in the pursuit of solutions that are good for both the industry and the environment.”
The roundtable is part of a series of events happening this month celebrating the Agency’s third anniversary of the Smart Sectors program. The program, which has launched in all ten EPA regions, provides a platform to collaborate with regulated sectors and develop sensible approaches that better protect the environment and public health. Among the program’s signature accomplishments is the development of data driven performance snapshots for each industrial sector. The first comprehensive update to these web-based tools which show historical environmental and economic performance for each sector were updated last week.
“It is critical to ensure we strike the proper balance between economic growth and environmental protection," said State Senator Camera Bartolotta. "Many Pennsylvania employers are active participants not only in creating jobs and economic opportunity, but also in being mindful of the impact of their activities on the local environment. I am thankful that we are able to showcase some of these local efforts and demonstrate the progress we have made toward promoting healthier and more vibrant communities in southwest Pennsylvania.”
“I am excited to see the EPA collaborating with local stakeholders for the betterment of Pennsylvanians," said State Representative Joshua Kail.
“The Smart Sectors Program and its success are a prime example of the benefits of a collaborative approach in regulating industries and in delivering positive outcomes for both industry and the public at large,” said Allegheny County At Large Council Representative Samuel DeMarco III.