Montana Department of Environmental Quality receives $2M to boost property assessment and cleanup in communities, including Anaconda, Billings and Libby
Montana DEQ among 265 recipients nationwide to receive Brownfields Cleanup, Assessment and Revolving Loan Fund Grants to help build a better America while advancing environmental justice
Helena, Mont. – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will receive a $2,000,000 Brownfields assessment grant to complete environmental site assessments and spur redevelopment at dozens of properties in Montana communities, including target areas in the town of Anaconda, the City of Billings, and the Town of Libby.
Montana DEQ will use the EPA community-wide grant funds to conduct more than 50 environmental site assessments and develop additional site inventories, reuse plans, and market studies to facilitate cleanup and reuse opportunities. The target areas for this grant include several locations in Anaconda, Billings, and Libby, including the 20-acre Anaconda Railyard, a 45,000-square-foot underutilized former paper company building in Billings, and the Libby Food Pantry.
EPA’s grant will also allow Montana DEQ’s Brownfields program to expand its current services beyond hazardous building material inspections and assessments of soil and groundwater to products that help prepare sites for investment and reuse.
“EPA is proud to support Montana’s efforts to invest in property assessment, cleanup and redevelopment projects in the communities that need them the most,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “We look forward to seeing these Brownfields funds improve community health and create new economic opportunities in places like Anaconda, Billings and Libby.”
“When industries change and communities develop, Montana’s towns and cities are often left to foot the bill on cleanup efforts,” said Senator Jon Tester. “My bipartisan infrastructure law will help to change that by reinvesting in the communities that have been most affected by leftover contamination and pollution. By working across the aisle with five Republicans and four other Democrats, we were able to secure critical funding to repurpose old or abandoned properties in the Treasure State and create good paying Montana jobs in the process.”
“This vital $2M infusion into the Montana Brownfields program will allow the Department of Environmental Quality to continue providing critical cleanup and redevelopment assistance on Brownfields sites, and lead to improved community outreach and assistance,” said Chris Dorrington, Director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. “Over the next five years, DEQ’s Brownfields program will now be able to assist communities and private developers with much needed planning and development tools such as community visioning, master plans, preliminary architectural reports and landscape renderings that will transform blighted Montana Brownfields properties into economic and community assets."
The Brownfields Program advances President Biden’s Justive40 Initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40 percent of the benefits of certain government programs to disadvantaged communities. Approximately 86 percent of the communities selected to receive funding as part of this announcement have proposed projects in historically underserved areas. EPA’s Brownfields grants and other technical assistance programs like the RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative are also helping to build the clean energy economy.
Today’s announcement includes approximately $180 million from the historic $1.5 billion investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help turn brownfield sites across the nation into hubs of economic growth and job creation, along with more than $75 million from fiscal year 2022 appropriations.
The funding includes:
$112.8 million for 183 selectees for Assessment Grants, which will provide funding for brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessments, and community outreach.
$18.2 million for 36 selectees for Cleanup Grants, which will provide funding to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites owned by the recipient.
$16.3 million for 17 selectees for Revolving Loan Fund grants that will provide funding for recipients to offer loans and subgrants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites.
$107 million for 39 high-performing Revolving Loan Fund Grant recipients to help communities continue their work to carry out cleanup and redevelopment projects on contaminated brownfield properties. Supplemental funding for Revolving Loan Fund Grants is available to recipients that have depleted their funds and have viable cleanup projects ready for work.
The list of selected applicants is available here: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2022-brownfields-assessment-rlf-cleanup-arc-grants-and-rlf
Since its inception in 1995, EPA’s investments in brownfield sites have leveraged more than $35 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example:
To date, this funding has led to more than 183,000 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment and more than 9,500 properties have been made ready for reuse.
Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged on average $20.43 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% 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. Redevelopment made possible through the program includes everything from grocery stores and affordable housing to health centers, museums, greenways, and solar farms.
The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on August 16-19, 2022 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 (ICMA).