The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields program provides direct grant funding to local governments and other entities for environmental assessment activities, cleanup work, and the capitalization of revolving loan funds. New grant application guidelines are announced each year in the fall, typically in October, and applicants usually have around eight weeks to complete and submit their application.
Competition for these grants is strong, and the total amount of funding available is limited to about $50 million nationwide each year. Many Wisconsin communities and the DNR have obtained brownfields grant funds from the EPA over the past 15 years.
Creating top-notch grant applications is hard work, and the DNR recommends that communities start working on their application(s) several months before the EPA releases their new guidelines this fall. Lots of project-specific planning, demographic data collection, and other application-preparation tasks are similar from year-to-year. Searching the internet for the EPA FY18 Guidelines for Brownfield Cleanup (or Assessment) Grants will get you started in the right direction.
There is one new twist this year, however, related to recently enacted federal legislation that makes some changes to the EPA’s grant program. This federal legislation is referred to as the BUILD Act, and was part of a larger omnibus bill. The EPA’s FY19 grant guidelines will probably be changed somewhat this year due to the new legislation, but the basic fundamentals of their grant application will likely be very similar to past years.
A few of the BUILD Act changes, related to the grant program, include:
- Maximum awards for cleanup grants are increased from $200,000 to $500,000.
- Multipurpose grants, for planning, assessment, cleanup, etc. are now authorized, and may be awarded at up to $1 million.
- Up to 5% of a grant can now be used for administrative costs.
- Local governments can now obtain grant funds for properties acquired through tax foreclosure, bankruptcy, condemnation, etc., prior to 2002.
More information about the EPA’s brownfield grant program and funding categories is available at: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/current-brownfields-grant-solicitations. Recently awarded grants are listed and described here: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy18-brownfields-assessment-revolving-loan-fund-and-cleanup-grants.
Join the DNR and MN Brownfields on Aug. 1, 2018, in La Crosse for a free, full-day workshop on writing successful EPA grant applications. Get the information you need to know to compete for these funds. Go to https://www.ksutab.org/education/workshops/details?id=317 for more information and registration.