U.S. EPA: Biden administration announces $7.5 million to tackle polluted brownfield sites in Wisconsin

Contact Information: Mary Pressley, [email protected]

CHICAGO (May 12, 2022) – Today, the Biden Administration through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded six Brownfield grants totaling $7.5 million to five recipients to fund work in communities across Wisconsin. Today’s grants are supported by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a total of $1.5 billion to advance environmental justice, spur economic revitalization, and create jobs by cleaning up contaminated, polluted or hazardous brownfield properties.

Brownfield projects can range from cleaning up buildings with asbestos or lead contamination, to assessing and cleaning up abandoned properties that once managed dangerous chemicals. Once cleaned up, former brownfield properties can be redeveloped into productive uses such as grocery stores, affordable housing, health centers, museums, parks, and solar farms.

The Brownfields Program advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40 percent of the benefits of certain government programs to disadvantaged communities. Approximately 86 percent of the communities selected to receive funding as part of today’s announcement across the nation have proposed projects in historically underserved areas.

“With today’s announcement, we’re turning blight into might for communities across America,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA’s Brownfields Program breathes new life into communities by helping to turn contaminated and potentially dangerous sites into productive economic contributors. Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are significantly ramping up our investments in communities, with the bulk of our funding going to places that have been overburdened and underserved for far too long.”

Today’s announcement includes approximately $6.5 million from the historic $1.5 billion investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help turn brownfield sites in Wisconsin into hubs of economic growth and job creation, along with $1 million from Fiscal Year 22 appropriations.

“EPA’s Brownfields grants are a great investment in Wisconsin’s future,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. “One of the best ways we can build back better in Wisconsin is by revitalizing unused and contaminated properties and returning them to productive purposes in communities across the state.”

“I have always been a strong supporter of the EPA’s Brownfields Program and these federal investments in communities across Wisconsin will help lay the groundwork for local efforts to turn brownfield sites into usable spaces that can help revitalize neighborhoods and create economic development,” said U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Wisconsin is thankful for this federal funding from the Biden Administration because it will help communities turn liabilities into productive local assets that can create jobs, improve environmental quality, and boost local tax revenues.”

“From Superior to Rhinelander to Milwaukee, these funds will play a critical role in continuing to address various contaminants, hazardous substances, and pollutants, as well as the economic, social, and environmental consequences they cause,” said Governor Tony Evers. “I want to share my thanks to the Biden Administration for this critical investment, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Secretary Preston Cole for their leadership on this issue, as well as the local leaders who are critical partners in these cleanup efforts as we continue our work to ensure safer, cleaner communities across our state.”

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will receive a$2 million grant to conduct 22 environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop seven cleanup plans. This grant encompasses three target areas throughout the State of Wisconsin – the North Central Regional Planning Commission 10-County service area, the Lake Superior Lakeshore, and the Old North Milwaukee neighborhood. Priority sites include a parcel that formerly housed an automobile repair site and dry cleaner buildings in the City of Rhinelander, a historic underutilized warehouse located on a marina in the City of Superior, and three former dry cleaner buildings in the older northern area in the City of Milwaukee.

“The City of Milwaukee has been working to revitalize brownfield sites,” said U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore. “I am so pleased that the bipartisan infrastructure law, which I proudly supported, is continuing these important efforts in the Old North Milwaukee neighborhood and addressing the long-standing inequities stemming from brownfield sites. These sites will now become places of opportunity and community growth for our residents.”

“This important funding will support brownfields redevelopment efforts in rural and underserved communities with environmental justice concerns that may not otherwise have the resources to assess and address potentially contaminated sites. This funding is an opportunity for Wisconsin to continue the critical work of addressing brownfields. We remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting all Wisconsinites who should have access to safe, clean water and clean air,” said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Preston D. Cole.

The Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission will receive a$500,000 EPA grant to conduct 29 environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop four cleanup plans and six reuse plans, and to support community outreach activities. The target areas for this grant are multiple former commercial and industrial properties in rural communities and tribal lands throughout the Bay Lake Planning Region. Priority sites include a former mill site, hardwood door manufacturing property, automobile repair site, and a former industrial property.

TheManitowoc Community Development Authority will receive a$500,000 grant to clean up the River Point District located at the intersection of North 11th Street and Buffalo Street in Manitowoc. The cleanup site has a history of industrial operations, including transloading operations for the Great Lakes shipping industry, lumber mills, and warehousing. It has been unused since the 2000s. The site is contaminated with volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, PCBs, and metals co-mingled with petroleum products. Grant funds also will be used to support community outreach activities.

“Having the continued support of the EPA in our quest towards repurposing many of our legacy brownfield sites has been key since the City’s first award in 2013,” said Manitowoc Mayor Justin M. Nickels. “This award will continue our partnership with the EPA and move the City’s River Point District towards redevelopment as a mixed-use anchor in our downtown.  The investment in the City’s future is a great example of how local and private resources can be leveraged to maximize their impact.”

The City of Menasha will receive a$500,000 grant to conduct 24 environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop five cleanup plans and an area-wide planning study, and to support community outreach activities. The target areas for this grant are the downtown and waterfront areas in the City of Menasha. Priority sites include two former paper mills, a former residential and steam cleaning business, and a 60-acre former industrial and fill area adjacent to a community park.

“Once envisioned as the industrial city of the North, positioned on its endless shores of the Fox River, Lake Winnebago and Little Lake Butte Des Morts, Menasha has seen its rise and fall in the industrial growth along the waterfront,” said Sam Schroeder, Community Development Director for the City of Menasha. “With the EPA’s support, Menasha will be positioned to proactively remediate and redevelop the core of our community to continue to grow the local tax base and increase the overall quality of life of the community.”

West Allis Community Development Authority will receive a$500,000 grant to conduct 13 environmental site assessments. Grant funds also will be used to develop three cleanup plans, two reuse assessments, one reuse vision, and three infrastructure evaluations, and to support community outreach activities. The target area for this grant is the Eastern Industrial Corridor in the City of West Allis. The Eastern Industrial Corridor is approximately 1,000 acres, of which approximately 300 acres have been identified as industrial sites, many of which were formerly operated as foundries, motor manufacturers, and salvage yards. Priority sites include a 7.4-acre former iron foundry that has been vacant since 2019 and three former industrial manufacturing sites that range in size from seven to 23 acres.

The City of West Allis will also receive a $3.5 million grant to supplement the city’s successful Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund.  With these additional funds West Allis will make even more loans and grants to property owners and communities for the cleanup of contaminated sites. RLF grants provide funding for a grant recipient to capitalize a revolving loan fund and to provide loans and subgrants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites. Through these grants, EPA strengthens the marketplace and encourages stakeholders to leverage resources to clean up and redevelop brownfields. When loans are repaid, the loan amount is returned into the fund and re-lent to other borrowers, providing an ongoing source of capital within a community. These additional funds are being awarded because of the success West Allis has already demonstrated.

“We are thankful to our partners at the EPA as these funds will be used to make West Allis a healthier, more vibrant community that will allow for more eye-opening transformations,” said West Allis Mayor Dan Devine.

“The City of West Allis welcomes these grant funds as they are many times the first funds used in order to spur the redevelopment of brownfield properties which would otherwise sit idle,” said West Allis Common Council President Thomas Lajsic.

The funding announced today will help communities begin to address the economic, social, and environmental challenges caused by brownfields by stimulating economic opportunity and environmental revitalization in historically overburdened communities.

The list of the applicants selected for funding is available here: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2022-brownfields-assessment-rlf-cleanup-arc-grants-and-rlf

Since its inception in 1995, EPA’s investments in brownfield sites have leveraged more than $35 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example:

  • To date, this funding has led to more than 183,000 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment.
  • Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged on average $20.43 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per $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% as a result of cleanup activities.
  • Finally, analyzing data near 48 brownfields, EPA found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup—2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites.

Background

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. Redevelopment made possible through the program includes everything from grocery stores and affordable housing to health centers, museums, greenways, and solar farms.

The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on August 16-19, 2022 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 (ICMA). Conference registration is open at www.brownfields2022.org.

For more on Brownfields Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding

For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields

During the past 10 years, EPA has invested a total of $31,935,884 in Brownfields grants in Wisconsin communities. Those funds have been used to complete 487 assessments and 53 cleanups and prepare 139 properties for reuse. In addition, those grants have leveraged $907,755,069 and 5,516 jobs.