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$5M In Supplemental Funds Now Available To Brownfields Loan Fund Grantees

Here in this month alone, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) intends to add $5 million dollars in supplemental funds to revolving loan fund cooperative agreements that were once awarded under the CERCLA Act. The funds will only be supplemented to former or previous grantees who have shown that they were able to deliver systematic results by completing their obligations on at least one previous loan or fulfilled subgrant award. These funds will provide additional support to Brownfield’s investors, but there are stipulations to receive the additional capital from investing in Brownfields.

Brownfields Properties

Brownfields are also often referred to as real property either improved or unimproved, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants. There are many state governments, including the federal government who have regulations and statutes in place to manage brownfield properties.

Asbestos Is Located On Many Brownfield Properties

Although brownfields contain various hazards or pollutants, many sites contain asbestos. Asbestos becomes harmful when it is disturbed from its natural or humanmade state. Due to the nature of many brownfield sites, most places that contain asbestos are dangerous because the asbestos-containing materials have begun to deteriorate and crumble. Once those particles break away, they become airborne and then are subject to be inhaled or swallowed.

All Asbestos Minerals Are Carcinogenic

Asbestos is a group of silicate mineral fibers found naturally in the earth. Asbestos has been widely used for decades in commercial and residential buildings. Besides, asbestos is also recorded to have been used in over 3,000 different applications at one time throughout the world. The downside to these silicate minerals is the fact that they are all carcinogenic, and can be extremely harmful to human health.

EPA Brownfields Helps Economic Development

Since the late part of the twentieth century, asbestos removal and remediation work were a consistent part of the environmental landscape in regards to improving the health or well-being of our environment. All across the board, local, state, and federal governments have utilized incentive provisions within specific programs to encourage investment in property redevelopment.

One way to help counter environmental risks such as asbestos contamination in communities all over the country is through the use of the EPA’s Brownfields Land and Revitalization program. The Brownfields program was created to help local communities, states, and investors collaborate to foster economic development. Overall, the thought put behind the collective effort initiated by the program is to instill that these contaminated properties are efficiently and timely executed for reuse. Initially, the programs function entails how these entities will assess, clean up, and reuse the brownfields, to enhance the betterment of a community’s environmental health and economic development. In the beginning, brownfields programs were started back in the early 1990s and first organized under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

CERCLA Act/Superfund Provides Federal Authority

The CERCLA Act, commonly referred to as a Superfund, was enacted by Congress on December 11, 1980. The law created a tax on petroleum and chemical companies. Also, the law provides overall federal authority to respond to threats of hazardous substances, which may either potentially endanger the public’s health or eminently be released into the environment.

For background, five years after the CERCLA ACT was passed, $1.6 billion was collected, and the tax went to a trust fund for cleaning up abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. For example, this law paved the way for the start to fund other programs added in provisions to the CERCLA Act that would officially jumpstart the Brownfields program in 1995.

Small Business Liability Relief And Brownfields Revitalization Act

Then In 2002, another federal program called the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was added to the CERCLA Act. This act paved the way for federal assistance funding to help brownfield revitalization, assessment grants, environmental cleanup, and environmental job training. Also, the added provisional act authorized the EPA to award grants to finance revolving loan funds, offer loans, and other subsidies to clean up brownfields. Furthermore, provisions also backed the EPA to authorize additional grant funds to become available to revolving loan fund grantees upon one year after their first initial grant fund was dispersed.

Only Qualified Brownfield Revolving Loan Fund Grantees May Apply

As a whole, not every revolving grant fund recipient will be entitled to receive the funds after the first year of their initial fund disbursement. Some stipulations and requirements have to be met to qualify for additional grant funds. Some of these considerations  to receive additional revolving loan grant funding are:

–    The number of sites and communities that are involved with the revolving loan fund;

–    The demand for funding by eligible entities that have not previously received a grant under this subsection;

–    The demonstrated ability of the eligible entity to use the revolving loan fund to enhance remediation and provide funds on a continuing basis; and

–    A variety of other similar factors that the EPA considers appropriate in regards to grantees’ qualifications for additional funding.

Primarily, for grantees to qualify for supplemental funding consideration, they must demonstrate that they have significantly depleted their funds and that they have an organized plan to allot the additional funds in an efficient and timely manner. To be clear, concerning the depletion of funds, the EPA awarded grant money or program loans or income that have been spent and utilized towards the completion of a former or current grantee’s brownfields property or project. When those funds are depleted strictly for the use and causes involved with that project by the grantee, then the grantee can request additional funds. Although, even if the grantee does meet this requirement, they must still be able to present a clear general plan for how they are going to apply the supplemental funds efficiently and timely.

EPA Depleted Funds

To clarify, the EPA defines “significantly depleted funds” as uncommitted, available funding that is 25% or less of total revolving loan funds awarded under all open and closed grants and cannot exceed $600,000. For new, revolving loan fund recipients with an award of $1 million or less, funds will be considered significantly depleted if the uncommitted, available funding does not exceed $300,000.

Revolving Loan Fund Recipients Must Demonstrate Supplemental Fund Needs

Additionally, the revolving loan fund recipient must have demonstrated a need for supplemental funding based on, among other factors: the list of potential projects in the revolving loan fund program pipeline; the ability to make loans and subgrants for cleanups that can be started, completed, and will lead to redevelopment; the ability to administer and revolve the Revolving loan fund by generating program income; an ability to use the revolving loan fund grant to address funding gaps for cleanup; and demonstrated that they have provided for past and will provide for future community benefit from past and potential loan(s) or subgrant(s).

A request for supplemental funding must be in the form of a letter addressed to the appropriate Regional Brownfields Coordinator listed under SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION with a copy to Rachel Congdon at [email protected] and to Rachel Lentz at [email protected]

Here is a listing of the 10 Regional Brownfields Coordinators:

   EPA Region 1- CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, and VT

EPA Region 2- NJ, NY, PR, and VI

EPA Region 3- DE, DC, MD, PA, VA, and WV

EPA Region 4 – AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, and TN

EPA Region 5- IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, and

EPA Region 6– AR, LA, NM, OK, and

EPA Region 7 – IA, KS, MO, and NE

EPA Region 8 – CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, and WY

EPA Region 9 – AZ, CA, HI, NV, AS, and GU

EPA Region 10 – AK, ID, OR, and WA 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Rachel Congdon, Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460–0001; telephone number (202) 566–1564; email address: [email protected].

Explore Brownfields Program Grants

Currently, the EPA is now accepting requests to supply supplemental funding from revolving loan fund grantees. Even if you have never been awarded an EPA grant, I would highly recommend researching and inquiring about the EPA’s Brownfields program or grants. Studies have shown that these grants contribute economic, environmental, and communal well -being to the area or region close in proximity. Seemingly, every few years, the program includes more incentives to reinvest and revitalize in these economically and environmentally deficient properties. In comparison, an additional $5 million in additional funds is not too bad.

Beware Of Asbestos and Hazardous Waste Or Chemicals On Brownfields Sites

Whether a potential brownfield site is being assessed or redeveloped, everyone must beware of harmful contaminants such as asbestos. Anyone working or near the potential site must understand that they can be exposed to airborne asbestos particles or hazards chemicals present on the property. Remember, if you or a loved one feel that you may be suffering from the harmful effects of asbestos exposure, please do not hesitate to contact experienced asbestos or mesothelioma attorney.

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