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Biden administration announces more than $250 million in new grants to redevelop contaminated sites across America

By Sam Fossum, CNN

The Biden administration announced Thursday that more than $254 million will be allocated to 265 communities to clean up and redevelop contaminated areas, known as brownfield sites, which contain hazardous substances or other pollutants like asbestos, lead and other dangerous chemicals.

“With today’s announcement, we’re turning blight into might for communities across America,” Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement, adding that the brownfields program “breathes new life into communities by helping to turn contaminated and potentially dangerous sites into productive economic contributors.”

Brownfield sites are properties can include abandoned industrial mines or factories, landfills, gas stations or even some former residential areas. There are more than 450,000 of these sites across the United States, according to the EPA.

The $254.5 million in funding for these projects, which are allocated through the EPA’s Brownfields Cleanup, Assessment and Revolving Loan Fund Grants, includes $180 million from the bipartisan infrastructure law and about $75 million from the 2022 omnibus appropriations bill, according to an EPA news release.

Grant projects awarded through the brownfield program include redeveloping areas into grocery stores, affordable housing, parks and solar farms, and roughly 86% of the communities selected to receive money in this latest slate of grants will carry out projects in “historically underserved areas,” according to the EPA.

“It’s just one way President Biden’s infrastructure law is making a real tangible impact on the ground where people live,” said Mitch Landrieu, the administration’s coordinator for the bipartisan infrastructure law. “That is exactly what building a better America looks like.”

One of the projects the administration announced will receive funding includes an initiative in Greene County, Pennsylvania, to turn a former coal mine into a 10-megawatt solar farm.

“These funds can make such a great impact and there’s work ahead, work to continue our efforts to prevent, assess, clean up and reuse these brownfield sites,” Crystal Simmons, a director of the Planning and Community Development Department in Greene County, told reporters, adding that the county is excited to see its plan “come to fruition.”

The bipartisan infrastructure law, signed by President Joe Biden nearly six months ago, includes $1.5 billion to help redevelop brownfield sites and $3.5 billion to clean up Superfund sites — the EPA’s program for cleaning up some of the most contaminated waste sites in the country.

Since 1995, the EPA has invested more than $35 billion in cleaning up and redeveloping brownfield sites, according to the EPA.

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