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EPA selects Rural Action to receives US$30 000 brownfields grant

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World Coal,

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that Rural Action Inc. in Ohio will receive US$300 000 in Brownfields funding through its Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grants. Funds will be used to conduct environmental investigations and cleanup planning at abandoned mine sites in Perry County.

“EPA’s Brownfields programme is providing critical funding to help empower Rural Action, Inc. to address the environmental, public health, and social issues associated with contaminated land,” said Acting EPA Regional Administrator, Cheryl Newton. “EPA commends community leaders for using these funds to take vital steps forward to improve the environment and the local economy. These federal grants show EPA’s commitment to lifting up and protecting all communities – especially environmental justice and underserved communities – throughout Ohio.”

“It’s very encouraging to see the early stages of redevelopment plans being put into motion with federal investment to assist the hard work from the local community. I applaud the work being done in Perry County to clean-up these former industrial sites,” added Senator, Sherrod Brown.

Rural Action, Inc., will use its grant, the organisation’s first from EPA, to identify and investigate properties in Perry County. Grant funds also will be used to prepare reuse and redevelopment plans and support community outreach activities. Assessment activities will focus on several abandoned surface and underground coal mines within the Headwaters Rush Creek watershed.

“Rural Action has been working to improve mine scarred lands in Ohio since 1994 and, through this U.S. EPA funding award, we are looking forward to expanding this effort into the Rush Creek watershed which is impaired by nearly 6000 acres of abandoned mine scarred lands. Assessing these sites and creating redevelopment plans will be a big step toward cleaning up the pollution that has plagued this region for decades, turning impaired sites into community assets that will eventually contribute to sustain-able economic development in Perry County,” commented Nate Schlater, Watershed Program Director.

EPA also announced a US$500 000 Brownfields grant for the City of Girard, bringing the statewide funding total to US$800 000.

“We are pleased to now work with our federal, state, and local partners to transform these urban and rural brownfield sites into parcels that will be environmentally safe and useful for future generations,” Ohio EPA Director Laurie A. Stevenson said. “This is a good day for Perry County and the entire state of Ohio.”

Nationally, a total US$65.5 million will be awarded to 151 grantees to support underserved and economically disadvantaged communities across the country assess and clean up contaminated and abandoned industrial and commercial properties. Approximately 50% of selected recipients are receiving EPA Brownfields grant funding for the first time and more than 85% are located in or serving small communities.

Since its inception in 1995, EPA's Brownfields Program has provided nearly US$1.72 billion in grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return them to productive reuse. Communities in Ohio have received more than US$90 million through 206 grants. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country, including:

  • To date, communities participating in the Brownfields Program have been able to attract more than US$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 US$20.13 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per US$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% to 15.2% as a result of cleanup activities.
  • Finally, analysing data near 48 brownfields, EPA found an estimated US$29 million to US$97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup — 2 to 7 times more than the US$12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites.

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