Vermont gets $3+ million from EPA for brownfields grants

-A A +A

Vermont gets $3+ million from EPA for brownfields grants

Thu, 07/25/2019 - 2:18pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Today, the US Environmental Protection Agency came to Montpelier to announce that seven grantees in the state of Vermont have been selected to receive $3,025,000 in EPA Brownfields assessment and cleanup funding. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities around the state in assessing and cleaning 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.”

EPA intends to award Brownfields grants to the following groups for work in Vermont:

• The Bennington County Industrial Corporation with a $500,000 grant for cleanup work.
• The Brattleboro Development Credit Corp with a $500,000 grant for cleanup work.
• The Northwest Regional Planning Commission with a $300,000 grant for environmental site assessment work; plus $375,000 in supplemental funding for their existing Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) program.
• The Rutland Regional Planning Commission with a $300,000 grant for environmental site assessment work.
• The Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Planning Commission with a $300,000 grant for environmental site assessment work.
• The Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development with $450,000 in supplemental funding for their existing Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) program.
• The Windham Regional Commission with a $300,000 grant for environmental site assessment work.  
The Vermont-based grantees are among 151 grants awarded nationwide, totaling $64.6 million. The EPA Brownfields funding will provide communities with funding to assess underutilized and possibly contaminated properties that are being considered for redevelopment.

EPA’s Brownfields grants and assistance to Vermont this year are 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 $11.6 million for over 30 communities to assess or clean contaminated brownfields sites.

“Communities across Vermont will benefit from EPA Brownfields funding,” said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. “Brownfields funding jump starts environmental cleanup at contaminated properties allowing them to be re-developed to benefit the community and its residents.”

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.

“We are fortunate to have such strong regional partners in Vermont who have the experience and expertise in brownfields redevelopment to secure these competitive grants,” said Vt. Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Emily Boedecker. “I’m excited to see the progress that will be made as a result of this $3 million investment to assess environmental conditions and transform properties from blighted, abandoned sites to viable community spaces.”

 “We are thrilled at today’s announcement and continued partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency,” said Vt. Secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development Michael Schirling. “These cleanup funds will help Vermont communities and businesses to address sites with environmental challenges and grow our economy. This is just the latest example of a long standing and robust State and Federal relationship that has been of great benefit to Vermonters.”

More about the Vermont Grants:

Bennington County Industrial Corporation
The Bennington County Industrial Corporation will receive $500,000 for the cleanup of hazardous substances at three parcels at Putnam Park in the Town of Bennington. The site was formerly a hardware store and lumber yard, and has also been affected by a former dry cleaning facility nearby. The site is contaminated with trichloroethylene, and the funding will be used to clean up the contamination.

Brattleboro Development Credit Corp.
The Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation will receive $500,000 for the cleanup of hazardous substances at the Long Falls Paperboard LLC property located in the Town of Brattleboro. The 39-acre site was first used for agricultural purposes and then developed as a paper mill, which closed down in 2018. It is contaminated with a number of industrial chemicals and heavy metals, and this grant funding will help get the site cleaned up.

Northwest Regional Planning Commission
The Northwest Regional Planning Commission will receive $675,000 this year.  This total includes $300,000 in assessment funding to conduct environmental site assessments and prepare cleanup plans at sites in communities like St. Albans and Richford.  Northwest RPC is also receiving $375,000 in supplemental funding for its successful Revolving Loan Fund program.  This funding will be used to help finance Brownfields cleanups in northwestern Vermont.

Rutland Regional Planning Commission
The Rutland Regional Planning Commission will receive $300,000 for conducting environmental assessment at sites in the City of Rutland. The priority sites where they anticipate focusing their efforts include the Berwick Hotel, Evelyn Street and the Rutland Creek Path.

Two Rivers Ottaquechee Regional Planning Commission
The Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission will receive $300,000 for environmental assessment work targeting sites in the towns of Hartford, Randolph and Bradford. The funding will be used to conduct an estimated 12 environmental assessments and two cleanup plans.

Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD)
Vermont ACCD is receiving $450,000 in supplemental funding for its highly successful Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) program. This funding will be used to help finance Brownfields cleanups throughout the State of Vermont.  ACCD is one of our most prolific RLF grantees in New England, having completed 19 cleanups already, with another 14 on the way.

Windham Regional Commission
The Windham Regional Commission will receive $300,000 for conducting environmental site assessments, developing cleanup plans, and preparing a brownfields area-wide plan. The WRC anticipates targeted this work in the downtown areas of the Town of Brattleboro, Town of Wilmington and the Village of Bellows Falls.

Background

In New England, since the beginning of the Brownfields program, EPA has awarded $114 million in assessment grant funding, $109 million in revolving loan fund grants and supplemental funding and $75 million in cleanup grant funding. These grant funds have paved the way for more than $3.18 billion in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for over 20,806 jobs in assessment, cleanup, construction and redevelopment.

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.

For More Information:

List of the FY 2019 Applicants Selected for Funding: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy19-brownfields-multipurpose-assessment-and-cleanup-grants

Publication: 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