Speeches - By EPA Administrator
Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, Remarks on Brownfields Grants in Michigan, As Prepared06/06/2011
|As prepared for delivery|
Thank you for welcoming me to your city. I’m so proud to be here to bring some exciting news to this community and others throughout Michigan and the nation.
Lansing has seen its fair share of challenges in recent years. The troubled auto industry left workers here without jobs and communities with abandoned and contaminated manufacturing plants. At the center of this perfect storm are more than a quarter of the residents who now find themselves living in poverty.
But the Obama Administration has stepped in to rebuild - here and throughout the U.S. The brownfields program is one way we are meeting that challenge. We’re here to build off the great work being done to revitalize Lansing through a $1 million revolving loan fund grant to support cleanup efforts by the Lansing Brownfield Redevelopment Authority. This is one of seven Michigan communities receiving a total of $2.9 million today in EPA brownfields funding. Around the country, we’re awarding more than $75 million aimed at redevelopment to boost local economies and create jobs.
In Lansing this money will support loans to clean up sites contaminated with petroleum and other hazardous substances. Specifically, the money will target the East Michigan Avenue Corridor, South Lansing Corridor, and former automobile manufacturing properties – some of the areas most in need of an economic boost.
These projects continue a long record of success for EPA’s brownfields program here in Lansing. The $1 million Lansing is receiving today adds to the $2 million in grants we’ve already invested here. With that grant money and our work with local businesses and government leaders, we’ve started to reinvigorate this city. We put more than 1,500 local residents on the job in the neighborhoods they know best working to transform an old, abandoned power plant on the downtown riverfront into something the community could use. Since then, businesses have come to the area, and that original $2 million has leveraged about $230 million in private sector investments and created or saved more than 1,000 additional local jobs.
This same success story can be told throughout Michigan. Communities here know from experience the impact brownfields cleanups have on their communities. Since the program began less than a decade ago, about $88 million in grants have leveraged almost a billion dollars in private sector investment and created about 8,700 new jobs.
This is the story we’re hearing throughout America. Each day EPA’s brownfields program puts local workers on the job cleaning up the places they call home. With the help of our program, they’re reinvigorating neighborhoods and building not only cleaner and healthier places to raise a family, but better places to invest in a business - boosting the economy and creating jobs often in areas most in need of help. In just nine years the program has helped to create 70,000 new American jobs throughout the nation.
Through the grants we’re awarding today, we’re extending this record of success. In addition to Lansing, other communities here in Michigan will soon be able to share their brownfields success stories. Communities like those in Southgate’s Downriver Community Conference, where facilities associated with the auto industry have closed - leaving abandoned and contaminated properties in their wake. Or like in Albion and Inkster, where vacant industrial sites litter the cities’ most economically-depressed areas. In Northville, we’ll transform an abandoned hospital that left behind toxins and a town without much of its tax revenue into a nature preserve and bustling area to attract businesses. In Adrian, the 3.3-acre site where the Buckeye Products Company once processed plastics will be cleaned up for a local small business to expand its operations - creating more than 120 jobs. And in Montcalm County, we’ll turn unused sites into greenways and habitat trails.
In each of these cases, we're targeting our resources to communities where environmental cleanups and new jobs are needed most and where our investments will have the greatest impact on the health and economy of the area. From empty factories to deserted gas stations, there are more than 450,000 abandoned or contaminated sites like these throughout America. These polluted sites threaten our health, economy and environment, but their cleanup presents opportunities. Opportunities to reinvigorate communities. To take unused land and transform it into bustling residential and retail districts. To turn a story of misfortune and plight into one filled with hope and prosperity as communities become better places to raise families and start businesses.
That is the story of the brownfields program. And I’m so happy to be here with you today to continue that story. Congratulations and thank you to all our awardees here with us for your hard work. I look forward to working together to create jobs and build healthier, more prosperous communities here in Michigan and throughout our nation. Thank you.