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EPA Awards Nearly $3 Million to Cleanup and Revitalize Maine Communities

Release Date: 06/10/2011
Contact Information: EPA New England Public Affairs, (617) 918-1010

(Boston, Mass. – June 10, 2011) – EPA is providing $2.95 million in Brownfields grants will help Maine communities to assess, cleanup and redevelop abandoned or contaminated properties.  The funding is part of more than $76 million in EPA brownfields investments across the country announced this week by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to protect health and the environment, create jobs and promote economic re-development in American communities.

The grant money will assist work to reclaim sites including old textile mills, sites containing hazardous substances and petroleum products and other abandoned industrial and commercial properties.  EPA’s Brownfields program encourages redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites.

In Maine, EPA is providing Brownfields grants to the following municipalities and groups:
• City of Augusta, $400,000 (2 cleanup grants, American Tissue site)
• Town of Belfast, $400,000 (community-wide assessment grant)
• Town of Canton, $200,000 (cleanup grant, Former Brindis Leather Co. Mill & Whitney Brook Dam)
• Greater Portland Council of Governments, $400,000 (community-wide assessment grant)
• Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, $1 million (revolving loan fund for community-wide work)
• Southern Maine Regional Planning Commission, $550,000 (community-wide revolving loan fund supplemental funding)

“This EPA funding will help strengthen the economic foundation of these communities,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA New England’s office. “Cleaning and revitalizing contaminated sites helps create jobs, providing a solid foundation for a community to create new businesses and neighborhood centers, while making our environment cleaner and the community healthier.”

“This federal support is critically important to help clean up and redevelop contaminated sites as useful spaces," said U.S. Senator Susan Collins. "These investments will provide economic opportunities here in Maine, while helping to protect our environment for future generations.”

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree said, “Cleaning up brownfield sites means valuable pieces of land will once again be available for economic development.  Instead of being an environmental liability, they become economic assets that can be used to develop new business and create new jobs.”

Congressman Mike Michaud said, “I'd like to thank the EPA for awarding this funding to our state. These cleanup and redevelopment projects are often too expensive for our local communities to manage themselves. Whether our communities receive a direct grant, or now have the ability to apply for help through the new revolving loan funds, these resources couldn't come at a better time. These investments will create jobs for the actual clean up and redevelopment work, but just as important, we'll be improving the environment, protecting public health, and creating future opportunities for economic growth.  I'd like to thank the EPA again for making today possible and for playing a role on the economic recovery of our state.  I look forward to following the progress of these critical projects.”

Maine Governor Paul R. LePage said, "These grants will jumpstart local economies in Augusta, Belfast, Canton, and in communities throughout southern and central Maine and help create jobs while protecting public health.  Brownfields projects like these demonstrate that the right thing to do for our health and our environment is also the right thing to do for our economy."

Maine Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Pattie Aho remarked, "These federal funds are hugely helpful to restoring environmental vitality and activating economic development in areas that have been in need of assistance for so long. Revitalization of these sites in our state will leverage dozens of jobs, reduce blight and put long vacant properties back in use and on the property tax rolls. These generous grants are being invested in cleaning up the past with the payoff being a healthier environmental and economic future for Maine."

The $12.55 million in grant and Revolving Loan Fund money awarded by EPA to a variety of New England communities and organization will provide substantial help around the region.  The EPA funding leverages over $46 million of other money to pursue brownfields cleanup and revitalization work. In New England, these projects have created 98 clean up jobs this year as well as 135 redevelopment jobs.

As of June 2011, EPA’s brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $16.3 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding, and helped create more than 70,000 jobs in cleanup, construction and redevelopment. These investments and jobs target local, under-served and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods – places where environmental cleanups and new jobs are most needed.

Since the beginning of the Brownfields Program, in New England alone EPA has awarded 268 assessment grants totaling $67.1 million, 61 revolving loan fund grants and supplemental funding totaling $65 million and 174 cleanup grants totaling $39.3 million.  These grant funds have paved the way for more than $1.3 billion in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for 8815 jobs in assessment, cleanup, construction and redevelopment.

Some of the money announced today falls under EPA’s brownfields revolving loan funding.  Since 1995, EPA RLF recipients have provided 53 loans and 63 grants in New England totaling more than $29 million for brownfields cleanup. The loan funds have paved the way for more than $189 million in public and private cleanup and redevelopment investment and for 1034 jobs in cleanup, construction and redevelopment.

In 2002, the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was passed. The brownfields law expanded the definition of what is considered a brownfield, so communities may now focus on mine-scarred lands, sites contaminated by petroleum, or sites contaminated as a result of manufacturing and distribution of illegal drugs (e.g. meth labs).

More Information:

EPA Brownfields program in New England: (http://epa.gov/region1/brownfields/index.html)

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