U.S. EPA has released its fiscal year 2011 request for proposals (RFP) for brownfield assessment and clean up grants. There is a relatively short window of opportunity to file your application- the deadline is October 15, 2010.
There is a total of $92.9 million available. While the RFP allows for greater funding under certain circumstances, the basic limit is $200,000 per site for assessment or clean up. EPA is required to expend 25% of the total amount available for sites contaminated with petroleum.
Ohio is lucky to have one of the best state brownfield grant programs- Clean Ohio. Often Clean Ohio is a better option than pursuing the U.S. EPA grant funding because U.S. EPA’s program is a national competition. However, there are certain circumstances that make the U.S. EPA brownfield grant program potentially a better option than Clean Ohio.
COAF Clean Up Funding Exhausted for this Fiscal Year
The Ohio Dept. of Development announced that it is no longer providing funding under the Clean Ohio Assistance Fund (COAF) for clean up of brownfields in fiscal year 2011. However, assessment funding remains.
COAF can provide provide up to $750,000 in funding for clean up of brownfields. Projects are evaluated and grants awarded on a rolling basis.
Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund (CORF) is still available to fund clean up. It provides up to $3 million in funding per site. However, a 25% match is required and there are only two CORF rounds per year which typically are competitive. Therefore, for smaller clean up projects looking for funding in the next year, U.S. EPA’s program may be the better option.
Abandoned or Vacant Gas Stations
Under the Clean Ohio policies, removal and clean up of BUSTR (Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulation) regulated storage tanks and remediation of leaks from such tanks are not eligible costs under either the Clean Ohio Assistance Fund (COAF) or the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund (CORF).
For local governments that are trying to deal with abandoned or vacant gas stations in their communities, the U.S. EPA brownfield grant may be their best option. Communities can seek money for sampling of the site to determine if contamination exists.
The fear of the unknown (whether contamination exists) acts as a strong deterrent to purchase and redevelopment by private parties. Once sampling data has been generated, it removes one more impediment to purchase and redevelopment of the site.
Of course if sampling reveals contamination, this can act as a major obstacle to redevelopment. However, communities can secure clean up funding for these sites under the U.S. EPA program.
Community Assessment Grants
U.S. EPA’s program may also be better for communities that are interested in creating a brownfield inventory of various sites within their jurisdiction. Also, U.S. EPA’s program is great for local communities that want to create and fund their own local brownfield assessment programs.
For example, in Northeast Ohio, the Northcoast Brownfield Coalition was created using U.S. EPA funding. The Coalition is made up of the Cuyahoga County Board of Commissioners, the City of Cleveland, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority and the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium. The Coalition makes provides local grant funding for brownfield projects in Northeast Ohio in amounts up to $30,000.
Below are the applicable limits for assessment grants under the U.S. EPA program:
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