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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded $74 million in brownfields grants to communities in 43 states, as well as to two tribes and two U.S. territories. The grants will help revitalize former industrial and commercial sites. The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, enacted in 2002, authorizes as much as $250 million in funds annually for brownfields grants. The 2002 law expanded the definition of what’s considered brownfields; communities can now focus on mine-scarred lands or sites contaminated by petroleum or the manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs.

In all, EPA selected 209 applicants to receive the following 314 assessment, revolving loan fund, and cleanup grants:

  • 194 assessment grants totaling $38.7 million to conduct site assessment and planning for eventual cleanup at one or more brownfields sites or as part of a community-wide effort;
  • 108 cleanup grants totaling $19.6 million to carry out cleanup activities at brownfields sites owned by the recipients; and
  • 12 revolving loan fund grants totaling $15.7 million for communities to capitalize a revolving loan fund (generally used to provide low-interest loans) and to provide subgrants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfields sites.

The brownfields program encourages redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites. Since the beginning of the program, EPA has awarded 1,255 assessment grants totaling more than $298 million, 230 revolving loan fund grants totaling about $217 million, and 426 cleanup grants totaling $78.7 million.

In addition to industrial and commercial redevelopment, brownfields approaches have included conversion of industrial waterfronts to river-front parks, landfills to golf courses, rail corridors to recreational trails, and gas stations to housing. As of Jan. 31, 2008, EPA says its brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $10.4 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding and 47,201 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment. Assessments have been performed on 11,738 properties; 256 properties have been cleaned up.

More information on the grant recipients is available online at www.epa.gov/brownfields.