US EPA

DNR Brownfields Annual Accomplishments Report Now Available

The Wisconsin DNR’s final report summarizing efforts and accomplishments funded by a US EPA Section 128(a) Grant is now complete and available online.

The report, prepared by the Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) program’s Brownfields and Outreach section, highlights the work and major accomplishments that program staff and partners achieved during the September 1, 2017 to August 31, 2018 grant year.

Previous reports, including the recent mid-year update on 128(a) funded efforts, are also available on the RR program’s website.

“Our staff put a lot of time and effort into working on brownfields cleanup and redevelopment projects and policies throughout the year. We’re proud to present this comprehensive report on those efforts and we’re grateful to the US EPA for providing funds to help us with those projects,” said Christine Haag, Brownfields and Outreach section chief.

Racine to Use DNR Brownfield Assessment Funds to Aid Uptown Redevelopment

Efforts to assess possible contamination at a decades-old industrial site in Racine’s uptown area will get a boost with a recently issued brownfields grant from the Department of Natural Resources.

The award comes from the DNR Wisconsin Assessment Monies (WAM) program, and will provide for contractor services worth approximately $20,000. The work will help the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Racine (RDA) assess possible contamination, leading to a potential cleanup and eventual reuse of the site.

Brownfields site in Racine.

Racine assessed this brownfield site in the uptown area with help from a WAM award worth $20,000 in contractor services.

The nearly one-acre site on 13th Street has a long history of various industrial uses. It was most recently the site of a laundry service for the health care and hospitality industries. Historic records from the Racine Fire Department indicate that a 500-gallon underground fuel oil tank was located on or near the property.

With the RDA ready to promote the property, an investigation of the environmental conditions on the site will help put the group in a better position of securing a buyer and returning the site to productive economic status.

“As Racine continues to redevelop former industrial sites, the DNR is proud to be part of the city’s future,” said Christine Haag, chief of the DNR brownfields section. “This WAM grant could be just the leverage that the RDA needs to help turn this property around and get it on track for the next generation of use.”

Administered by the DNR Remediation and Redevelopment Program, WAM awards provide communities with professional environmental site assessments of properties with known or perceived contamination. The program is funded through a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brownfields assessment grant.

Participation in the WAM program requires minimal effort by local governments. Because there is no financial match or project administration involved, the program is an attractive opportunity for communities. In many instances, WAM awards are leveraged with other sources of funding to kick-start repurposing efforts on properties that may have been underutilized for many years.

Applications can be submitted for WAM awards at any time. Properties eligible for funding include closed or closing manufacturing plants, or vacant land with a history of manufacturing.

For more information, contact Tom Coogan at 608-267-7560 or Thomas.Coogan@wisconsin.gov.  

Last Chance to Register for Brownfields Grant-Writing Workshop in La Crosse

Join the Wisconsin DNR and Minnesota Brownfields in La Crosse, on Aug. 1, 2018, for a free, full-day workshop on writing successful EPA grant applications. Get the information you need to compete effectively for these property investigation and cleanup funds — and get a head-start on your proposal for the upcoming fall grant opportunity.

Who should attend? Local and regional government officials, not-for-profit economic and community development organizations, tribes, and any other entity interested in applying for federal grants to assist with the assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment of under-performing commercial and industrial properties in their community.

More information about the workshop is available HERE, and a link to the registration form is available HERE. Lunch is provided too!

EPA Solicitation for 2018 BUILD Act Comments

The Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development (BUILD) Act was enacted on March 23, 2018 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018. The BUILD Act reauthorized EPA’s Brownfields Program, and made amendments to the 2002 Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act.  Authorized changes affect brownfields grants, ownership and liability provisions, and state and tribal response programs. EPA is developing policy guidance to implement the BUILD Act.

https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/brownfields-broadcast

As part of this process, the EPA is soliciting comment on three provisions in the BUILD Act:

  1. The authority to increase the per-site cleanup grant amounts to $500,000;
  2. The new multi-purpose grant authority; and
  3. The new small community assistance grant authority.

Comments will be accepted through July 10, 2018 to BUILDAct@epa.gov.

Aug. 1, 2018 – EPA Brownfields Grant Writing Workshop in La Crosse

Join the DNR and Minnesota 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 effectively for these funds, and get a head-start on your proposal for the fall grant opportunity.

Wisconsin communities, and the DNR, have been awarded millions of dollars in brownfields grant funds by the EPA over the past decade. It is clearly possible to obtain these dollars, but your grant application package has to be very good to stand out and get funded. Tips and strategies from experts will be shared at this workshop.

New federal legislation, referred to as the BUILD Act, makes changes to several aspects of brownfields law, including more clarity for local governments on how to obtain federal liability protections, and more flexibility in the EPA grant program. Learn about these changes and more.

Who should attend? Local and regional government officials, not-for-profit economic and community development organizations, tribes, and any other entity interested in applying for federal grants to assist with the assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment of under-performing commercial and industrial properties in their community.

More information about the workshop is available HERE, and a link to the registration form is available HERE (button near top-right of web page). We hope you can join us!

EPA ARC Grants Preparation & BUILD Act

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.

Continue reading “EPA ARC Grants Preparation & BUILD Act”

EPA Brownfields Grant Application Tips – June 6 Webinar

Every year, in the fall, the EPA offers a new opportunity for local governments and others to obtain grant funds for environmental assessments, revolving loan funds, and property cleanup work (“ARC”). It is good to get started early on your grant application package, well before the official EPA announcement is made in the fall.

One of the EPA’s national outreach and assistance contractors is hosting a free “head-start” grant writing webinar on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 | 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM CDT. The title of the webinar is “Writers of the Best ARC.” In addition to tried-and-true tips and techniques, along with hard lessons learned, the webinar is offering grant writing advice from expert grant writers from around the country.

Get a head start on the ARC grant application period, and learn about recent federal legislative changes that may affect the EPA guidelines this fall. Register at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/3941484594013599491

In addition, the EPA periodically hosts general grant award process webinars. More information on these presentations is available at https://www.epa.gov/grants/epa-grants-award-process-webinars.

Free Professional Brownfields Assistance for Local Governments

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funds professional service providers around the country to help local governments and tribes affected by environmental issues at brownfield properties. These professionals are part of the Technical Assistance for Brownfields (TAB) program and serve as no-cost independent advisors and resource providers for community revitalization efforts.

Wisconsin is fortunate to have two very experienced and talented TAB service providers available to our communities. Margaret Renas, from the Chicago-based nonprofit Delta Institute, is a professional engineer with a great deal of environmental consulting and community redevelopment experience. Maggie Egbarts, from Kansas State University, is the TAB Coordinator for EPA Regions 5 and 7, and has many years of experience in environmental assessment, cleanup, regulatory compliance and revitalization activities.

Continue reading “Free Professional Brownfields Assistance for Local Governments”

EPA to Host Listening Sessions on Superfund Task Force Recommendations Beginning May 21, 2018

The EPA’s Office of Site Remediation Enforcement announced the schedule for the series of eight listening sessions related to recommendations contained in the July 2017 Superfund Task Force Report. These listening sessions will provide a forum for EPA personnel to obtain stakeholder input on specific recommendations, increase public participation and transparency, and strengthen communication with stakeholders.

The eight listening sessions begin May 21, 2018 and end June 18, 2018. Information on each of the listening sessions and registration links are available on the EPA’s website at https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/listening-sessions-superfund-task-force-recommendations. The first session addresses Recommendation 16.2 and focuses on expediting negotiations with potentially responsible parties under Superfund cleanup agreements. Registration for the first listening session is open now.

The registration form provides a participant with the option to make live verbal remarks or to listen online. All session participants must register. Registration for verbal remarks also means the opportunity to listen to the entire session. The registration slots for verbal remarks are limited due to the two-hour time frame for the session. Additionally, the agency would like listening session participants to focus their remarks, both verbal and written submissions, on the questions and topics identified on each session’s registration form. Written remarks can be sent to OSRE via the listen session email address: osre-sftf-listeningsession@epa.gov.

DNR, Wisconsin Communities Receive $2.9M in EPA Brownfields Awards for FY2018

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Remediation and Redevelopment Program – along with its seven regional planning commission partners – is the recipient of a $600,000 US EPA Brownfields Grant.

The Wisconsin Brownfields Coalition will use this money to continue the Wisconsin Assessment Monies (WAM) program which provides funding to aid local governments and other eligible applicants in assessing and investigating environmental contamination at brownfields sites throughout the state. The coalition will target closed and closing manufacturing facilities to assess potential environmental contamination that could complicate reuse of the properties.

In addition to the Wisconsin DNR’s award, several other Wisconsin communities and entities were awarded US EPA Brownfields Grants:

  • Stevens Point – $300,000
  • Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee – $900,000
  • Racine – $300,000
  • Manitowoc – $300,000
  • Manitowoc Community Development Authority – $200,000
  • Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission – $300,000

“Clearly there is no shortage of creativity, innovation and ingenuity when it comes to brownfields redevelopment projects in the great State of Wisconsin,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator and former Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “EPA looks forward to expanding our work with our partners to redevelop brownfields so they can once again be thriving parts of their communities – spurring local economies with jobs and new businesses as well as generating tax revenues and spending.”

A full version of the US EPA press release can be found here.