SmartCitiesDive: Brownfield clean-up job training programs can get $14M from EPA

Dive Brief:

  • Local governments and nonprofits can now apply for federal funding to recruit and train unemployed and underemployed local workers to clean up polluted sites for redevelopment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on May 21. 
  • About $14 million is available in total; the EPA expects to award about 20 grants at up to $500,000 each. 
  • The deadline to apply for the Brownfields Job Training Program grants is Aug. 15. The EPA will hold a webinar on June 6 to explain the grant guidelines and answer questions.

Dive Insight:

More than 450,000 brownfield sites exist across the nation, according to the EPA. The potentially dangerous pollution at these sites makes redevelopment complicated. Communities that live near brownfield sites are more likely to be members of minority groups, be low-income and have limited English proficiency and are less likely to have a high school education, the EPA says.

In addition to opening applications for the job training program, the EPA last week announced that it awarded over $300 million in grants to help states, tribal governments, local governments and nonprofits clean up brownfield sites. 

Grant-supported projects in Dallas and Milwaukee will develop affordable housing properties on formerly polluted sites. Philadelphia, where EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced the grants, has also received federal funding to turn a former oil terminal into a space where residents can garden, farm, access hiking and biking trails and fish. 

“Cleaning and re-using brownfield sites is so important,” said U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Penn., in a statement. It brings “development and jobs to areas that need them, and it keeps green spaces from being paved over,” he said.

The 2021 infrastructure law has allowed the EPA to turbocharge its investment in brownfield cleanups, providing over three times the funding available previously, the agency said.