EPA Selects Oklahoma Corporation Commission for $300,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant
Funds are part of $65.6 million awarded nationwide
DALLAS – (May 12, 2020) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) will receive Brownfields assessment grant for $300,000. The grant is part of $65.6 million given nationwide to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the agency’s Brownfields Program. Under President Trump’s Administration, EPA has delivered approximately $287 million in Brownfield grants directly to communities and nonprofits for cleanup and redevelopment, job creation, and economic development through the award of 948 grants.
The OCC will focus its Brownfields assessment grant on abandoned gas stations within the city of Okemah, which is located within a Qualified Opportunity Zone. Priority sites include 10 gas stations that contain abandoned underground storage tanks.
“EPA Brownfields funding can go a long way to making a difference in communities of all sizes, but especially in small towns like Okemah,” said Regional Administrator Ken McQueen. “This grant will provide more opportunity for the OCC to help revitalize abandoned gas stations and reinvest in local communities.”
“This is great news for the Okemah community. The Brownfields grant will not only help them begin the process of cleaning up these sites, but it will also revitalize the area,” said Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02). “I am glad the EPA is investing in this community and I look forward to seeing the progress made.”
“This EPA Brownfield Grant will help clean up these legacy gas stations and jump start a renaissance along this historic corridor in the heart of Oklahoma,” said Oklahoma Secretary of Energy & Environment Ken Wagner. “The investment today by EPA will pay dividends and returns for decades into the future. We thank Administrator Andrew Wheeler for his continued partnerships with states like Oklahoma.”
“This program provides an investment that pays very real dividends to the taxpayer, turning an environmental liability into a property that is an asset to the community,” said OCC Chair Tim Heitt. “I am proud of the work of the OCC Brownfields staff and grateful for the assistance of the EPA.”
“We are very gratified EPA has shown confidence in OCC to execute this vital environmental program, as evidenced by this substantial grant,” said OCC Executive Director Tim Rhodes. “Our staff accept the responsibility for this important work; understand the high expectations; and are determined to exceed those expectations.”
Nationwide, this year, the agency is announcing the selection of 155 grants for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA brownfields funding the agency’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Programs. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities, including neighborhoods located in Opportunity Zones, in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. An Opportunity Zone is an economically distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Of the 151 total communities selected, 118 of these communities can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated in these zones. In addition, nearly 30% of the communities selected today will receive brownfields funding for the first time.
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% following cleanup.
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 United States. 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, from both public and private sources, leveraged more than 160,000 jobs.
The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on April 26-30, 2021, 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.
List of the FY 2020 applicants selected for funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2020-brownfields-assessment-revolving-loan-fund-and-cleanup-0
For more on the brownfields grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding
For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields
For more information about EPA’s role in Opportunity Zones: https://www.epa.gov/opportunity-zones
For information on the studies related to the Brownfields Program’s environmental and economic benefits: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-program-environmental-and-economic-benefits
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About EPA Region 6: https://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/epa-region-6-south-central
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