Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the city of Austin, Texas, is among the 151 recipients of 154 grant awards totaling $66.5 million in Brownfields funding through its Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grants.
The city plans to use their $600,000 assessment coalition grant to conduct environmental site assessments; develop cleanup, reuse, and community involvement plans; and conduct community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on East Austin, including five Qualified Opportunity Zones. Priority areas include sites that formerly housed a recycling facility, a processing plant, a Home Depot and a car dealership; an undeveloped site next to a landfill; the Escuela Nueva preschool (formerly an auto repair facility), and two underutilized sites slated to be developed into multi-family housing. Coalition partners are the Austin Housing Coalition and the Austin Housing Finance Corporation.
This funding will support underserved and economically disadvantaged communities across the country in assessing and cleaning up contaminated and abandoned industrial and commercial properties. Approximately 50 percent of selected recipients are receiving EPA Brownfields grant funding for the first time and more than 85 percent serve small communities.
“Through our Brownfields Program, EPA is delivering on the Biden Administration’s commitment to lifting up and protecting overburdened communities across America, especially communities that have experienced long periods of disinvestment and decay,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “These assessment and cleanup grants will not only support economic growth and job creation, but they will also empower communities to address the environmental, public health, and social issues associated with contaminated land.”
“As Austin continues to grow, land use becomes more important. Brownfields funding can help the city make the most out of available resources,” said Acting Regional Administrator David Gray. “EPA is proud support this work that will benefit neighborhoods and communities often overburdened by contamination.”
The national grant announcement includes:
- $8.8 million for 11 Multipurpose Grants, which will provide funding to conduct a range of eligible assessment and cleanup activities at one or more brownfield sites in a target area.
- $42.2 million for 107 Assessment Grants, which will provide funding for brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessments, and community outreach.
- $15.5 million for 36 Cleanup Grants, which will provide funding to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites owned by the recipient.
EPA anticipates that it will award the grants once all legal and administrative requirements are satisfied by the selected recipients.
Since its inception in 1995, EPA’s Brownfields Program has provided nearly $1.76 billion in grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return them to productive reuse. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example:
- To date, communities participating in the Brownfields Program have been able to attract more than $34.4 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding after receiving Brownfields funds. This has led to over 175,500 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment.
- Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged on average $20.13 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 percent to 15.2 percent 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 — two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites.