The year is coming to a close, but we couldn’t end 2015 without discussing the $54.3 million U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant to clean up and redevelop contaminated properties. In May, EPA announced it had selected 243 new grant investments in 147 U.S. communities, totaling $53.4 million.

The grant is designed to provide the funding needed to evaluate, clean up and revive contaminated properties; enhance the local economy; and create more jobs, while making the area a safer place to live for residents. Each of the 243 grant recipients will receive roughly $200,000 to $600,000 in funding.

A Commitment to Cleaning Up Brownfield Sites

Brownfield sites are properties where redevelopment efforts are complicated due to the possible presence of contaminants. Often times, these structures are abandoned or under-utilized facilities in suburban settings, such as factories and warehouses. However, they can also be found in much smaller settings — such as former gas stations and dry cleaners — in rural locations. The EPA estimates there are currently more than half a million known brownfield sites in the U.S., but the actual number is likely much higher.

The EPA grants allow communities to redevelop these sites, helping to improve the both the environment and the local business climate. More than 30% of the 147 communities chosen were impacted by plant closures, 40% by major economic disruptions and 42% by catastrophic natural disasters.

“These communities have demonstrated a plan to leverage their grants and partnerships to achieve economic and environmental revitalization to meet their needs for jobs,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “These critical EPA resources are going into communities with populations ranging from 89 to 1.4 million, and more than half under 100,000. The grants will help transform brownfield sites, such as former manufacturing and mill sites, into productive end uses which directly benefit community residents and create opportunities including increased housing options, recreational spaces, and jobs.”

The EPA Brownfield Program was established in 1995 and since then it has raised more than $22 billion to assist in the cleanup and redevelopment of these contaminated sites, which has resulted in the creation of 105,942 U.S. jobs.
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