U.S. EPA announces $800,000 in Brownfields grants to promote economic redevelopment in Northern California
Approximately $64.6 million to be awarded nationwide
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that two communities in Northern California have been selected to receive grant awards totaling $800,000 in EPA Brownfields funding through our Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grant Programs. The grants to the City of Eureka and the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation are part of the $64,623,553 million awarded nationally to 149 communities. EPA Brownfield funds aid economically disadvantaged communities in Opportunity Zones and other communities throughout the country to assess and clean up abandoned industrial and commercial properties.
“These grants fulfill several of President Trump’s top priorities simultaneously: helping communities in need transform contaminated sites into community assets that not only create jobs and jumpstart economic development but also improve public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are targeting these funds to areas that need them the most. Approximately 40 percent of the selected recipients are receiving Brownfields grants for the first time, which means we are reaching areas that may previously been neglected, and 108 of the selected communities have identified sites or targeted areas for redevelopment that fall within Opportunity Zones.”
“We are delighted to recognize our Northern California partners with these grant awards,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “We look forward to seeing continued investment in the revitalization of Eureka and Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation and the community benefits which follow.”
The City of Eureka will receive $300,000 to conduct several environmental site assessments, including at the Balloon Track site - a nine-parcel site that includes a portion of the former Union Pacific Eureka Railyard, which has been unused for over 30 years. Grant funds will also be used to develop three cleanup plans, inventory and prioritize sites, complete site redevelopment plans, and conduct community outreach activities.
The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation will receive $500,000 to clean up several sites in the 11-acre Xaa-wan-k'wvt Village and Resort’s South R.V. Park in Smith River, which is currently closed due to public safety and health concerns. The site operated for decades as an economic enterprise with commercial, recreational, and residential uses. The soil and buildings to be addressed with this funding are contaminated with metals and asbestos-containing materials. Grant funds will also be used to implement, monitor, and enforce institutional controls on the property.
Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfield 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 have been 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.
“I am truly excited to join as EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announces over $64 million in Brownfield funding,” said Scott Turner, Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council. “The Brownfields grant program is a tremendous vehicle for bringing real revitalization and transformation to the distressed communities of America. As the Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council I am pleased that EPA continues to support the Council and the President’s work in this area. In fact, of the 149 communities selected for these grants, 108 will benefit communities with Opportunity Zones. I look forward to seeing the impact that these grants will have on neighborhoods and citizens across the country.”
One hundred and eight communities selected for grants this year have identified sites or targeted areas in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Forty percent of the communities selected for funding will receive assistance for the first time.
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 U.S. As of May 2019, under the EPA Brownfields Program 30,153 properties have been assessed, and 86,131 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use. In addition, communities have been able to use Brownfields grants to leverage 150,120 jobs and more than $28 billion of public and private funding.
In 2018 Congress reauthorized the statutory authority for the Brownfields Program. The reauthorization included changes to the program to expand the list of entities eligible for Brownfields grants, increase the limit of individual Brownfields cleanup grants to $500,000, and add grant authority for Multipurpose grants. These important changes will help communities address and cleanup more complex brownfield sites.
The 2019 National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on December 11-13 in Los Angeles, California. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties. EPA cosponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.
List of the FY 2019 Applicants Selected for Funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy19-brownfields-multipurpose-assessment-and-cleanup-grants
Brownfields: Properties with New Purpose, Improving Local Economies in Communities with Brownfield Sites: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-06/documents/bf_booklet.pdf
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
More on the 2019 Brownfields Conference: https://www.brownfields2019.org
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