EPA Brownfields Funding Helps Local Communities
BOSTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing that three grantees in the state of Maine have been selected to receive $1.4 million to assess and clean up contaminated properties under the agency’s Brownfields Program. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities around the state in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. Under President Trump’s Administration, EPA has delivered approximately $287 million in Brownfield grants directly to communities and nonprofits for cleanup and redevelopment, job creation, and economic development through the award of over 948 grants.
“COVID 19 has impacted the economy and redevelopment in every corner of this New England. Today’s investment of EPA Brownfields assessment and cleanup funding provides a much-needed boost for economic development and job creation in many of New England’s hardest hit and underserved communities,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. “Brownfields projects are always an economic catalyst, and this funding has never been more important to our local partners.”
The Maine based grantees are among 155 grants that will be awarded for communities and tribes totaling over $65.6 million in EPA Brownfields funding the agency’s Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant Programs. These funds will aid under-served and economically disadvantaged communities, including neighborhoods located in Opportunity Zones, in assessing and cleaning up abandoned industrial and commercial properties. An Opportunity Zone is an economically-distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Of the 151 total communities selected, 118 of these communities can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated in these zones. In addition, nearly 30% of the communities selected today will receive brownfields funding for the first time.
“Maine will benefit greatly from this substantial grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. The funding will allow Maine DEP to assist communities statewide with clean-up and redevelopment possibilities,” said Maine DEP Commissioner Jerry Reid. “Many Maine towns are working to reinvent themselves by attracting clean, modern industries after local mills closed. Millinocket is a perfect example. EPA’s Brownfields Initiative will promote the clean-up and redevelopment of projects like Our Katahdin’s revitalization of the former Great Northern paper mill site and complement other similar projects across the state.”
EPA intends to award Brownfields grants to the following groups for sites in Maine:
Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, Western Maine will be awarded a $300,000 Assessment Grant to conduct environmental site assessments, develop cleanup plans, and support reuse planning and community outreach activities for various sites to be selected throughout the grant. The target areas are communities along the Androscoggin River on major transportation corridors that lead to the rural Western Maine region, including three Qualified Opportunity Zones. The priority sites they intend to target include the L-A Community Housing Project in the City of Lewiston, the former St. Louis Church in the City of Auburn, and the former Holy Savior School in the Town of Rumford.
“The Brownfields assessment funds will allow AVCOG to continue to address the variety of assessment needs throughout our tri-county region. Thanks to our partners at the US EPA, AVCOG has successfully assessed, cleaned up, and/or redeveloped several properties through our program. Additional assessment funds will allow us to continue our work to plan for the reuse of sites for municipal, economic development and housing opportunities as well as recreation and green space. Thanks to the EPA for their leadership and partnership in our Brownfields program!,” said Amy Landry, Executive Director, Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, Maine.
Our Katahdin, Millinocket will be awarded a $350,000 Assessment Grant to conduct detailed environmental site assessments at the former Great Northern Paper Mill located at 1 Katahdin Ave. in the Town of Millinocket. The 1,400-acre site was originally developed as a pulp and paper mill complex, which operated at the property from 1900 to 2008 and has since been vacant and unused. Grant funds also will be used to develop cleanup plans and support and reuse planning and community outreach activities, including a design charrette to solicit public input on the reuse of the site. The site is located within a Qualified Opportunity Zone.
Our Katahdin will also be awarded a $500,000 Cleanup Grant for the Administration Building of the Former Great Northern Paper Mill. The Administration Building was constructed in 1913 and is contaminated with PCBs, heavy metals, and inorganic contaminants. Grant funds also will be used to develop a community relations plan, prepare outreach and educational materials, and conduct at least two public meetings. The site is located within a Qualified Opportunity Zone.
“These EPA funds will provide a cornerstone to rebuild the former Millinocket mill site into an engine of our regional economy, enabling a full assessment of brownfields opportunities and cleaning up our beloved Administration building,” said Sean DeWitt, President of Our Katahdin, the non-profit owner of the former Great Northern Paper Mill in Millinocket ME.
The City of Portland will be awarded a $250,000 Community-wide Assessment Grant to inventory sites and conduct environmental site assessments throughout the city. Grant funds also will be used to develop cleanup plans and support community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on the Bayside/East Bayside neighborhood, which is partially located in a Qualified Opportunity Zone. The priority site is a two-block industrial tract bounded by Somerset, Chestnut, Lancaster, and Pearl Streets which currently is used as an open trailer lot and scrap yard.
“On behalf of the City of Portland, Maine, I’d like to thank the EPA for their continued financial assistance and environmental expertise,” said Mayor Kate Synder. “EPA’s grant award will enable the city of Portland, through the Economic Development Department, to provide grants to evaluate environmental contamination to eligible commercial and residential sites to support their redevelopment and reuse.”
EPA’s Brownfields grants and assistance to Maine 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 $7.2 million for over 16 communities to assess or clean contaminated brownfields sites.
“The Brownfields Program has proven to be a major benefit to the overall health and vitality of Maine communities,” said Senators Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement. “In addition to cleaning up hazardous substances, conducting site assessments, and improving our environment, these investments will help the Androscoggin Valley region, the Town of Millinocket, and the City of Portland in their redevelopment of former industrial and commercial sites and increase economic development opportunities to attract businesses that create good jobs for Mainers.”
“As Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, I’ve fought to increase funding for Brownfields grants because these federal investments go a long way to bring new economic activity to communities throughout Maine. Portland’s Bayside neighborhood was long an underutilized industrial area but is now home to a vibrant community of craft breweries, distilleries, and roasteries that make it a draw for visitors and residents alike. This substantial grant will help add to Bayside’s appeal and encourage more arts and hospitality businesses to put their roots down in this growing neighborhood,” said Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.
“I’m pleased to see the EPA award Brownfields grants to projects in Auburn, Lewiston, Millinocket, and Rumford. These grants will fund important clean-up and assessment work which will help these sites transform and contribute to the economic growth of their communities. I look forward to continuing to support the work of Our Katahdin and the Androscoggin Valley County of Governments to ensure these funds make a real impact in their towns,” said Congressman Jared Golden.
In New England, since the beginning of the Brownfields program, EPA has awarded $123 million in assessment grant funding, $112 million in revolving loan fund grants and supplemental funding and $82 million in cleanup grant funding. These grant funds have paved the way for more than $3.62 billion in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for over 22,600 jobs in assessment, cleanup, construction and redevelopment.
Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfields 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 are 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 percent following cleanup.
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 United States. EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $1.6 billion in brownfield grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. To date, brownfields investments have leveraged more than $31 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Over the years, the relatively small investment of federal funding leveraged, from both public and private sources, more than 160,000 jobs.
The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on April 26-30, 2021, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing former commercial and industrial properties. EPA co-sponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.
Brownfields in New England: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-land-revitalization-region-1
List of the FY 2020 applicants selected for funding: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-05/documents/fy20_arc_grants_selected_for_funding.pdf (12 pp, 640 K, About PDF)
Types of EPA Brownfields grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding
Basic Information on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields
EPA’s role in Opportunity Zones: https://www.epa.gov/opportunity-zones
For information on the studies related to the Brownfields Program’s environmental and economic benefits: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-program-environmental-and-economic-benefits