$9.8M coming to Arizona for brownfield cleanup

Contributed article

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced over $9.8 million from President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda to expedite the assessment and cleanup of brownfield sites in Arizona while advancing environmental justice.

EPA selected eight entities in Arizona to receive grants totaling more than $9.8 million in competitive EPA Brownfields funding through the Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (MARC) Grant programs. Thanks to the historic boost from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, this is the most funding ever awarded in the history of the EPA’s Brownfields MARC Grant programs.

These investments are part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda to grow the American economy from the bottom up and middle-out – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over $470 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments in the United States, to creating a manufacturing and innovation boom powered by good paying jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, to building a clean-energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.

“We’re working across the country to revitalize what were once dangerous and polluted sites in overburdened communities into more sustainable and environmentally just places that serve as community assets. Thanks to President Biden’s historic investments in America, we’re moving further and faster than ever before to clean up contaminated sites, spur economic redevelopment, and deliver relief that so many communities have been waiting for,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “This critical wave of investments is the largest in Brownfields history and will accelerate our work to protect the people and the planet by transforming what was once blight into might.”

“These Brownfields grants in Arizona are vital in EPA’s efforts to restore lands and the communities around them by removing harmful pollution and reviving the lands for beneficial uses,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “Brownfields funds enable and empower communities to create healthier, safer and more equitable futures for themselves.”

“From the Navajo Nation to Bisbee, our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continues to deliver impactful infrastructure and economic development funding to communities in every corner of our state. By cleaning up neglected properties, these projects will spur investment, create jobs, and improve quality of life for Arizonans,” said Senator Mark Kelly.

“This federal funding will clean up hazardous sites which have disproportionately harmed marginalized communities for far too long. It is a key advancement for environmental justice efforts and will help begin the process of revitalization for areas that have been victimized by polluters. I’m proud to have supported the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that made this funding possible and I will continue to champion the fight for Southern Arizona and disadvantaged communities across this nation to gain access to resources to repair and prevent environmental harm,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva.

“These brownfields grants continue to bring needed resources that allow us to provide easier access to critical funding to address blighted and under-used properties located in our tribal nations and rural communities, which often struggle with worker capacity to obtain and manage such grants on their own,” said Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Karen Peters.

“The City of Tolleson is excited to have been selected to receive a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Assessment grant. Through this funding the City will be able to assess the selected sites, discover concepts for their revitalization, and create redevelopment opportunities that will benefit the community,” said Pilar Sinawi, Chief Government Affairs Officer for the City of Tolleson.

The City of Bisbee aims to be good stewards of our communities’ assets and look forward to using this grant to address our critical needs. Affordable housing is not just part of our City’s strategic plan, but a commitment to ensure those who live and work here, can afford to live here,” said Melissa Hartman, Senior Planner/Project Director for the City of Bisbee.

“Cochise County is thrilled with EPA’s ongoing support and partnership with the investment of the RLF grant greatly needed for economic development and redevelopment of brownfields properties,” said Richard Karwaczka, County Administrator, Cochise County.

“This will be a great opportunity to initiate the reuse of a historic site that has remained mostly vacant and unused since the early 2000’s. Outcomes and benefits of the reuse strategy are improved access to innovative social, justice, and court services for disadvantaged and underserved communities: and holistic and creative opportunities for economic and sustainable development in the heart of downtown Flagstaff,” said Tom Hanecak, Director of the Coconino County Facilities Management Department.

“These grants will bring clear benefits to historically underserved communities of the Navajo Nation. The grant funded projects will focus on assessment and remediation of grossly contaminated former industrial sites and pesticide application sites across the Navajo Nation,” said Pam Maples, Remedial Project Manager, Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency.

“The South Eastern Arizona Governments Organization (SEAGO) is grateful for the opportunity to address the historic challenges and present-day impacts that brownfields pose to targeted properties identified in Graham, Greenlee and Santa Cruz counties through the EPA’s award of our Fiscal Year 2023 Community Wide Assessment Grant Application,” said Randy Heiss, SEAGO Executive Director

“The White Mountains, home to the White Mountain Apache Tribe, is one of Arizona’s most visited areas due to its natural beauty and recreational opportunities. The Tribe’s protection and preservation of its land, ecosystems, and natural resources is very important for the future of its economic development,” said Brenda Pusher-Begay, Director of White Mountain Apache Tribe Environmental Protection Office.

Many communities that are under economic stress, particularly those located in areas that have experienced long periods of disinvestment, lack the resources needed to initiate brownfield cleanup and redevelopment projects. As brownfield sites are transformed into community assets, they attract jobs, promote economic revitalization and transform communities into sustainable and environmentally just places.

Thanks to the historic $1.5 billion boost from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA’s Brownfields Program is helping more communities than ever before begin to address the economic, social, and environmental challenges caused by brownfields and stimulate economic opportunity, and environmental revitalization in historically overburdened communities.

EPA’s Brownfields Program also advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative to direct 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments to disadvantaged communities. The Brownfields Program strives to meet this commitment and advance environmental justice and equity considerations into all aspects of its work. Approximately 84 percent of the MARC program applications selected to receive funding proposed to work in areas that include historically underserved communities.

State Funding Breakdown:

Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (MARC) Grant Program Selection

The following organizations in Arizona have been selected to receive EPA Brownfields funding through the Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (MARC) Grant programs.

  • Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Assessment Grant for $2,000,000: This community-wide assessment grant will allow the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to expand their existing Brownfields program to leverage funds in economically distressed areas across Arizona to bring investment and revitalization to those communities. Assessing brownfield sites will prepare those properties for cleanup and redevelopment, paving the way for affordable housing and other community services.
  • City of Bisbee, Cleanup Grant for $468,000: This grant to the City of Bisbee will provide hazardous cleanup of a hundred-year-old historic property for redevelopment into affordable housing. The project will bring much needed housing opportunities to this rural former mining community that is nestled just 5 miles from the Mexico border.
  • Cochise County, Revolving Loan Fund Grant for $1,000,000: This grant will support the County’s economic development efforts by investing in properties vital to rural communities. The funds will support the cleanup of brownfield sites facilitating private investment, redevelopment and preservation of historic properties, promotion of tourism and creation of affordable housing.
  • Coconino County, Cleanup Grant for $573,615: This cleanup grant will allow Coconino County to remove lead, asbestos, and mold at a former jail in the heart of historic downtown Flagstaff. Coconino County plans to redevelop the facility into a resilience hub for the community, housing transformative social justice programs designed to reduce recidivism and support successful community re-entry.
  • Navajo Nation, Assessment Grant for $2,000,000 and Cleanup Grant for $2,000,000: EPA is awarding the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency a community-wide assessment grant and a cleanup grant to address priority sites and support economic development across Navajo Nation. These grants provide continued assessment and cleanup funding for the Navajo Forest Products Industry site, a more than 100-acre contaminated former particle-board factory that continues to impact Red Lake Chapter and the town of Navajo, New Mexico.
  • Southeastern Arizona Governments Organization Assessment Grant for $500,000: Grant funds provided to the Southeastern Arizona Governments Organization will enable communities to better understand the past uses of brownfield sites, assess existing levels of contamination, and plan for site cleanups. The work supported by this grant will help unlock public and private investments for the cleanup and redevelopment of sites that will improve access to healthcare, increase affordable housing opportunities, and enhance economic development while reducing exposure to environmental contaminants.
  • City of Tolleson, Assessment Grant for $500,000: Through this grant, the City of Tolleson aims to reclaim areas in the central city that have been encroached upon by industrial operations. The funding will be used to conduct environmental site assessments to support the City’s General Plan to provide community services, educational facilities, retail, dining, and commercial services, and increased safety and connectivity between the community and local resources.

White Mountain Apache Tribe, Multipurpose Grant for $800,000: Through this grant, the White Mountain Apache Tribe will conduct community engagement, site assessment, cleanup, and reuse planning at Tribal-owned properties along the Chief Avenue Revitalization Corridor. Sites will be prioritized for redevelopment into educational facilities, spaces for health, recreation, and social uses, economic development, and improved Tribal Government services.