EPA Announces $660K in Supplemental Funds to Clean Up and Reuse Brownfield Sites in Maine
Funds are part of $6.9 million awarded nationwide
BOSTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing $660,000 in supplemental funding for three current successful Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) grantees in Maine. The Maine recipients are among seven groups in New England selected to receive a total of $1.5 million. EPA is also today releasing the Superfund FY 2019 Accomplishment Report highlighting results by the Trump Administration to get Superfund sites cleaned up and back to productive reuse. In FY 2019, about 1,000 Superfund sites around the country support new and ongoing uses, where more than 9,000 businesses have generated over $58 billion in sales and employed more than 208,000 people.
The recipients of Brownfields RLF funding in Maine are the Greater Portland Council of Governments ($180,000), the Maine Department of Economic & Community Development ($300,000), and the Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission ($180,000). The supplemental funds announced today are going to communities that have demonstrated success in using their revolving loan funds to clean up and redevelop brownfield sites. The supplemental funds will be used to continue their progress in reusing vacant and abandoned properties and turning them into community assets such as housing, recreation and open space, health facilities, social services, and commerce opportunities.
"EPA Brownfields funding provides a much-needed boost for economic development and job creation in Maine, and in many of New England's hardest hit and underserved communities," said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. "The partners we are recognizing today have been selected to receive additional funds, thanks to their proven track record of success. These groups have redevelopment projects already lined up and ready to go, putting businesses to work and transforming local communities. Covid-19 has impacted every corner of New England and these grants have never been more important to our local partners or local economies."
Greater Portland Council of Governments is receiving $180,000 to recapitalize their loan fund from which they will provide loans and subgrants to support cleanup activities. This award will increase their loan fund to $1,780,000. Grant funds will also be used to conduct community outreach activities. Potential projects include trails and greenspace at a former foundry site in Westbrook and the Portland Company in Portland. Including other grant types in the past, the council has received a total of $3,480,000 in EPA Brownfields funding to date.
"GPCOG is excited receive additional EPA funding to continue its work helping to clean up properties and have them contribute once more to the prosperity of our region," Tony Plante, GPCOG's Director of Municipal Collaboration and manager of its brownfields program said. "Through EPA's ongoing partnership and funding, and leveraging private investment, GPCOG will continue to help add housing, support business, and strengthen the economy of Greater Portland and the Lakes Region."
Maine Department of Economic & Community Development is receiving $300,000 to recapitalize their loan fund from which they will provide loans and subgrants to support cleanup activities. This award will increase their loan fund to $4,049,983. Grant funds will also be used to conduct
"BRLF dollars have been instrumental in providing the State of Maine a tool to assist communities with the clean-up of hazardous waste sites, both to eliminate eye sores and to make them attractive for redevelopment efforts. These supplemental funds will help DECD, in partnership with DEP, continue those efforts throughout the State." Andrea K. Smith, Director, Tax Incentive Programs, Department of Economic and Community Development.
Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission is receiving $180,000 to recapitalize their loan fund from which they will provide loans and subgrants to support cleanup activities. This award will increase their loan fund to $4,050,000. Grant funds will also be used to conduct community outreach activities. Potential projects include the Pepperell Mill in Biddeford. Including other grant types in the past, the commission has received a total of $10,300,000 in EPA Brownfields funding to date.
"Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission has implemented a successful Brownfields revolving loan fund and assessment program for over a decade, leveraging over $200 million through the assessment and clean up funds we have received through EPA," said Chuck Morgan, Economic Development Director of the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission. "Our success could not have been achieved without our partnership with the EPA Brownfields Program and its Region 1 staff."
Recipients of EPA's Brownfields RLF funding provide low-interest loans and sub-grants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfields sites. When loans are repaid, the loan amount is returned into the fund and re-lent to other borrowers, providing an ongoing source of capital within a community. To date, EPA's RLF grantees across the country have completed 759 cleanups and attracted approximately 45,000 jobs and $8.4 billion in public and private funding.
Some of the communities receiving supplemental funds have census tracks designated as federal Opportunity Zones within their jurisdiction. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment.
"We welcome this announcement that will mean so much for the health and safety of Maine communities," said Senators Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement. "By cleaning up the hazardous waste materials, each community can safely reuse these spaces in a productive manner that will increase quality of life. In addition, this significant investment from the EPA will create quality jobs for Maine people, contribute to economic growth, and help push our state towards a sustainable and cleaner future."
"As a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment, I know that Brownfields grants offer a tremendous opportunity for our cities and towns to clean up hazardous sites and promote new economic growth," said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. "Across Maine, local economies have benefitted from the infusion of federal capital that comes from the EPA Brownfields program, allowing previously unused property to revitalize communities and create jobs. I'm glad to see such a large EPA investment come to Maine, and I look forward to all the projects that are completed through this funding."
"Brownfields Revolving Loan Funding provides the much-needed resources to reduce and/or eliminate risks associated with contamination, allowing Maine municipalities and developers the opportunity to move their projects forward. The partnership with DECD has been a win-win for Maine's economy and environment." – Jerry Reid, Commissioner, Maine DEP
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. EPA's Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $1.6 billion in brownfield grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. To date, brownfields investments have leveraged more than $31 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding leveraged, from both public and private sources, more than 160,000 jobs.
Grants awarded by EPA's Brownfields Program provide communities across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and achieve broader economic development outcomes, while taking advantage of existing infrastructure. For example, brownfields grants are 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.
- EPA's Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields
- EPA Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding