EPA Selects Rhode Island Project to Receive $300K Brownfields Assessment Grant
EPA Brownfields Funding Helps Local Communities Build Back Better and Address Environmental Justice Concerns
BOSTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM) has been selected to receive $300,000 to assess contaminated properties under the agency's Brownfields Program. The funds will support under-served and economically disadvantaged communities around the state in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. The RI DEM funding award is among 151 projects across the nation to receive 154 grant awards totaling $66.5 million in Brownfields funding through its Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grants.
"Through our Brownfields Program, EPA is delivering on the Biden Administration's commitment to lifting up and protecting overburdened communities across America, especially communities that have experienced long periods of disinvestment and decay," said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. "These assessment and cleanup grants will not only support economic growth and job creation, but they will also empower communities to address the environmental, public health, and social issues associated with contaminated land."
"These new EPA Brownfields funds are more important than ever, because the ongoing pandemic has impacted the economy and redevelopment throughout New England," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. "Today's investment of EPA Brownfields assessment and cleanup funding provides a much-needed boost for economic development and job creation in many of New England's hardest hit and underserved communities."
In Rhode Island, EPA has selected the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management for a $300,000 Brownfields Assessment Grant to perform work throughout the state with a focus on Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Woonsocket, R.I. Community-wide grant funds will be used to inventory and prioritize sites and conduct Phase one and Phase two environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop cleanup plans and conduct community outreach activities. Target areas for assessment activities include a residential area with environmental justice concerns on Sylvian Street, which is a major thoroughfare in Central Falls; the former Conant Thread/Coats and Clarks Mill Complex on Pine Street in Pawtucket, and three mill buildings originally part of a woolen mill complex located at 55 Main Street in Woonsocket.
"We are delighted to receive this brownfields award and for EPA's continued investment in Rhode Island communities," said Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit. "DEM is committed to environmental justice areas and creating healthy communities in our urban core, and we will use this grant to build upon our efforts to redevelop brownfields in Woonsocket, Central Falls and Pawtucket. Rhode Island's success with brownfields would not be possible without strong partnerships across federal, state, and local government; business; and communities."
EPA's Brownfields grants and assistance to Rhode Island this year is among other significant annual investments by EPA to help New England communities to address brownfield properties. Across the six New England states this year, EPA is awarding a total of $ 8.1 million for 18 communities to assess or clean contaminated brownfields sites.
"In communities throughout Rhode Island, the Brownfields program has demonstrated how good environmental policy can drive smart economic development. I am pleased that with new EPA leadership we are making a renewed commitment to economic revitalization, environmental justice, and restoration efforts through the Brownfields investments in Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Woonsocket," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.
"I'm pleased to announce that the EPA has awarded $300,000 to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management to assess a number of brownfield sites and support economic development in formerly industrial areas," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "With this funding, DEM will begin restoring contaminated vacant lots in Central Falls, Pawtucket, and Woonsocket back to productive use."
"Cleaning up brownfields creates new economic opportunities and helps improve our state's environment," Congressman David Cicilline said. "This funding will make a real difference, especially in the Blackstone Valley. I look forward to seeing these resources put to good use."
"I'm pleased that my congressional colleagues and I have secured $300,000 to clean up contaminated land, create good-paying jobs, and pave the way for future investment in our communities," said U.S. Representative Jim Langevin. "We can transform blighted areas into engines of economic growth, all while helping our environment and improving public health. Thanks to RI DEM's work, brownfield clean-ups will pay dividends for years to come and make our state a better place to live for all Rhode Islanders."
In New England, since the beginning of the Brownfields program, EPA has awarded $123 million in assessment grant funding, $112 million in revolving loan fund grants and supplemental funding and $82 million in cleanup grant funding. These grant funds have paved the way for more than $3.78 billion in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for over 22,846 jobs in assessment, cleanup, construction and redevelopment.
Since its inception in 1995, EPA's Brownfields Program has provided nearly $1.76 billion in grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return them to productive reuse. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example,
- To date, communities participating in the Brownfields Program have been able to attract more than $34.4 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding after receiving Brownfields funds. This has led to over 175,500 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment.
- Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged on average $20.13 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfield Grant funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.
- In addition, an academic peer-reviewed study has found that residential properties near brownfield sites increased in value by 5% to 15.2% 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—2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites.
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. EPAs Brownfields program has proven time and again that investing in properties like these unlocks their potential to improve the environmental, economic, and social fabric of communities.
Brownfields in New England: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-and-land-revitalization-region-1
The list of the fiscal year 2021 applicants selected for funding is available here: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2021-brownfields-multipurpose-assessment-and-cleanup-grants
EPA anticipates that it will award the grants once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied by the selected recipients.
Basic Information on EPA's Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields
Types of EPA Brownfields grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-epa-brownfield-grant-funding