Seattle, Washington (KINY) - EPA announces the largest investment ever in brownfields communities made by President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda.
On Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $11,800,000 from President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda to expedite the assessment and cleanup of seven brownfield sites in Alaska while advancing environmental justice.
Alaska’s communities will receive EPA Brownfields funding through the Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant programs as well as the Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities Program.
The four Alaska Native Regional and Village Corporations awarded funding are receiving it for the first time, and it will allow them to address contaminated sites conveyed through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
These investments totaling $315 million 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 Alaska communities more resilient.
“The bipartisan infrastructure law continues to deliver significant investments to our state, making Alaskan communities healthier, stronger, and more resilient,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “I was proud to take a leading role in crafting the infrastructure law, and I’m glad to see over $11.6 million in investments through the EPA Brownfields Program are heading to Alaska—adding to the over $3.9 billion in transformational investments to our state announced already. By cleaning up previously unusable lands, Alaskans will have access to cleaner and safer lands that their communities can finally use.”
“This funding is an important step forward in improving the environment across Alaska, including many areas that were contaminated by past government and commercial activity. Alaskans should be able to enjoy the full beauty of our lands, and these projects will help to identify sources of contamination, engage local communities, and prepare and execute cleanup plans,” said Congresswoman Mary Peltola. “I will continue to advocate for the federal government to provide these resources to local communities, particularly when action is needed to remediate contamination from prior federal use.”
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.
The historic $1.5 billion boost from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law enables EPA’s Brownfields Program is to help more communities than ever before to begin to address the economic, social, and environmental challenges caused by brownfields and stimulate economic opportunity, and environmental revitalization in historically overburdened communities.
The following organizations in Alaska were selected to receive EPA brownfields funding:
• Ahtna, Inc. - $2,000,000 to conduct up to 20 Phase I and up to seven Phase II environmental site assessments, prepare a reuse and revitalization plan and to conduct community engagement activities. The target area for this grant is Ahtna lands.
• Aleut Corporation - $2,000,000 to conduct eight Phase I environmental site assessments, develop an area-wide plan and conduct cleanup planning and community outreach activities. The target area for this grant is Adak Island.
• Municipality of Anchorage - $1,000,000 to conduct 23 Phase I and 12 Phase II environmental site assessments, cleanup and reuse planning, and community engagement activities. Assessment activities will focus on the Downtown, Midtown/Spenard, Mt. View, and Chugiak/ Eagle River areas of Anchorage.
• Cook Inlet Region, Inc. - $2,000,000 to inventory sites and conduct 20 Phase I and 18 Phase II environmental site assessments, prepare eight reuse plans, eight cleanup plans, one area-wide plan, and to conduct community engagement activities including developing a Community Involvement Plan. The target area for this grant is the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
“The Alaska Native people of the Cook Inlet region have spent generations in accord with the land, growing with it, harvesting plants and animals from it, acting as its stewards,” said President and CEO Sophie Minich. “This funding from the EPA enables CIRI to assess what is needed to restore and protect these lands for CIRI Shareholders and Descendants - today and for future generations.”
• City of Kake - $2,000,000 to clean up the Former Kake Elementary School property. Grant funds also will be used to hold at least four community meetings and develop community outreach materials.
“With this grant funding award the Community of Kake will be receiving from EPA Brownfields it will mitigate and dispose of an old grade school building that has been sitting idle, rotting away and falling in on itself in the heart of our community for the past three plus decades. This building is a serious health and safety issue within the community as a whole and especially for our children that continue to play around in the area and or try to get into the building because they are curious,” said City of Kake Mayor Lloyd Davis. “I would like to thank Sealaska and Van Ness Feldman for all their help in working with the City of Kake to secure this grant.”
• Ounalashka Corporation - $2,000,000 to conduct 24 Phase I and 15 Phase II environmental site assessments, prepare 18 cleanup plans, 12 site-specific reuse plans, one area-wide reuse plan, and to create a redevelopment-focused brownfield site inventory. The target areas for this grant include Bunker Hill/Little South America, Pyramid Valley and Strawberry Hill within the City of Unalaska.
• City of Whittier - $800,000 to conduct two Phase I and three Phase II environmental site assessments, develop three cleanup plans, support community engagement activities and conduct cleanup activities on up to five of the priority sites identified by the city.
“Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfields Program provide communities like Whittier Alaska an opportunity to transform sites like the Buckner building into community assets that provide needed affordable housing opportunities and attract economic development,” said Assistant City Manager Jackie Wilde. “Looking forward to helping make Whittier Prettier for current and future citizens and visitors for all generations to come!”
Additionally, the Center for Creative Land Recycling will receive $5,000,000 to provide training and technical assistance to communities in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington under the Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities Program.
EPA is also expanding the scope of its technical assistance offerings under the Brownfields and Land Revitalization Program to include three new subject-specific grants totaling $2 million.