CHICAGO – Recently the Biden Administration through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded almost $6 million in Brownfields grants to assess or cleanup brownfields or to support revolving loan funds in communities across Ohio. The city of Galion will receive a $500,000 grant to update an inventory of brownfield sites and conduct 26 environmental site assessments.
The city will also develop two cleanup plans and two site reuse assessments to support community outreach activities. Priority sites include two former elementary schools, one vacant and unused since 1980 and one demolished in 2008 and unused since.
“Like every small community, Galion has a number of abandoned properties and a need to identify and prioritize these sites,” said Galion Mayor Tom O’Leary. “Unlike many other communities, Galion now has a source of funding through the Brownfield Assessment Grant. We are very fortunate to be one of a few communities in the country which now has funding to assess local sites.”
The grants are supported by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a total of $1.5 billion to advance environmental justice, spur economic revitalization, and create jobs by cleaning up contaminated, polluted or hazardous brownfield properties.
Brownfield projects can range from cleaning up buildings with asbestos or lead contamination, to assessing and cleaning up abandoned properties that once managed dangerous chemicals. Once cleaned up, former brownfield properties can be redeveloped into productive uses such as grocery stores, affordable housing, health centers, museums, parks, and solar farms.
The Brownfields Program advances President Biden’s Justice40 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 the announcement across the nation have proposed projects in historically underserved areas.
“With today’s announcement, we’re turning blight into might for communities across America,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA’s Brownfields Program breathes new life into communities by helping to turn contaminated and potentially dangerous sites into productive economic contributors. Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are significantly ramping up our investments in communities, with the bulk of our funding going to places that have been overburdened and underserved for far too long.”
The program includes approximately $3.5 million from the historic $1.5 billion investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help turn brownfield sites in Ohio into hubs of economic growth and job creation, along with almost $2.5 million from Fiscal Year 22 appropriations.
“EPA’s Brownfields grants are a great investment in Ohio’s future,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. “One of the best ways we can build back better in Ohio is by revitalizing unused and contaminated properties and returning them to productive purposes in communities across the state.”
“The redevelopment of formerly contaminated brownfield sites is an opportunity for new growth for communities across Ohio,” said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. “These funds will help support revitalization efforts critical to the safety and economic success of our state.”
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will receive a $1,998,725 grant to conduct 32 environmental site assessments and develop four reuse plans, six cleanup plans, and two area-wide plans and to support community outreach activities. The target areas for this grant are the city of East Cleveland, the village of Bellaire, and the village of Newcomerstown, which are small, distressed communities in eastern Ohio. Priority sites include three parcels of vacant land that were former automobile repair shops, a former railroad yard, a former dry cleaner, and a former manufacturing site that now houses vacant structures and concrete slabs.
Grant recipients also include Buckeye Hill Regional Council, Lorain Port Authority, Montogomery County Lan Reutilization Corporation, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, Sandusky, and Toledo.
The complete list of the applicants selected for funding nationwide is available on the Brownfields website.
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.
During the past 10 years, EPA has invested a total of $30,282,550 in Brownfields grants in Ohio communities. Those funds have been used to complete 903 assessments and 34 cleanups and prepare 318 properties for reuse. In addition, those grants have leveraged $1,030,825,260 and 3,945 jobs.
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.