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Camden City Receives EPA $3.5 Million Brownfields Grant to Clean Up Contaminated Sites

 

Camden Grant is Part of $6.5 Million in New Brownfields Funding Going to Transform NJ Communities

 
NEW YORK (May 20, 2022) – The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) is transforming communities across NJ and especially in Camden. That is the message delivered today by EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia, Senator Cory Booker, Congressmember Donald Norcross, Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen and New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette in Elijah Perry Park in Camden. EPA will be awarding four grants totaling $6.5 million in Brownfields funding for communities across New Jersey. The largest of these grants—$3.5 million—will be awarded to the Camden Redevelopment Agency and will be loaned and granted for site cleanups, including the Elijah Perry Park. There are many communities in Camden with environmental justice concerns that experience a high concentration of vacant, contaminated and underutilized areas throughout the City of Camden.

These grants are part of the larger $254.5 million in Brownfields Grants to 265 communities across the nation. The grants are supported by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a total of $1.5 billion to advance environmental justice, spur economic revitalization, and create jobs by cleaning up contaminated, polluted, or hazardous brownfield properties. 

“With today’s announcement, we’re turning blight into might for communities across America,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA’s Brownfields Program breathes new life into communities by helping to turn contaminated and potentially dangerous sites into productive economic contributors. Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are significantly ramping up our investments in communities, with the bulk of our funding going to places that have been overburdened and underserved for far too long.”

"Camden has a proven track record in transforming communities through its brownfields program, which serves as a model for other communities," said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. "The Brownfields program is a powerful tool made only more potent thanks to President Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a total of $1.5 billion to help transform communities by promoting equitable environmental health, economic growth, and job creation across the country."

Brownfield projects can range from cleaning up buildings with asbestos or lead contamination, to assessing and cleaning up abandoned properties that once managed dangerous chemicals. Once cleaned up, former brownfield properties can be redeveloped into productive uses such as grocery stores, affordable housing, health centers, museums, parks, and solar farms.

The Brownfields Program advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to deliver at least 40 percent of the benefits of certain government programs to disadvantaged communities. Approximately 86 percent of the communities selected to receive funding as part of today’s announcement have proposed projects in historically underserved areas.

EPA’s Brownfields grants and other technical assistance programs like the RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative are also helping to build the clean energy economy. Today’s announcement includes a former coal mine in Greene County, Pennsylvania, that will become a 10-megawatt solar farm, and a former dump site in the Fort Belknap Indian Community in Montana that will be converted to a solar farm, saving local residents an estimated $2.8 million in energy costs over 25 years, among many others.

This announcement includes approximately $180 million from the historic $1.5 billion investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help turn brownfield sites across the nation into hubs of economic growth and job creation, along with more than $75 million from Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations. The national list of the applicants selected for funding is available here: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/applicants-selected-fy-2022-brownfields-assessment-rlf-cleanup-arc-grants-and-rlf.

Since its inception in 1995, EPA’s investments in brownfield sites have leveraged more than $35 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example:

  • To date, this funding has led to more than 183,000 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment and more than 9,500 properties have been made ready for reuse.
  • Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged on average $20.43 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfields Grant funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.
  • In addition, an academic peer-reviewed study has found that residential properties near brownfield sites increased in value by 5% to 15% as a result of cleanup activities.
  • Finally, analyzing data near 48 brownfields, EPA found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup—2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfields sites.

Representative Donald Norcross said: “I helped pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to improve the quality of life for residents in South Jersey. Cleaning up old commercial and industrial sites to protect our neighborhoods from hazardous waste and polluted environments has been a longtime priority for me. I’m proud to have supported this funding and will continue to fight in Congress for policies that protect our environment and reduce the health burdens that Brownfield sites place on our communities.”

“Our path toward continued, equitable economic growth is paved by the steps we take today to clean up and cultivate a healthy, safe environment,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “This funding will allow New Jersey to transform brownfields into vibrant, productive assets, especially in under-resourced communities. Investments in the remediation of these sites are investments in future opportunities for all New Jersey residents and businesses.”

“Economic development and environmental protection go hand-in-hand, and in New Jersey, EPA’s robust brownfields cleanup incentives serve as a vital resource for revitalizing vacant properties,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. “This funding will be especially critical in Camden, which has been undergoing a significant transformation by cleaning up brownfield sites, combatting illegal dumping and turning vacant properties into community assets, such as the Kroc Community Center. For too long, financial barriers have prevented entities from developing contaminated sites due to the limited funding available for site assessments, planning, and cleanup. Today’s funding announcement will allow the DEP and the EDA to increase current programmatic efforts to remediate and redevelop contaminated sites, sparking community-wide economic revitalization and furthering Governor Murphy’s commitment to a stronger and fairer New Jersey economy and environment.”

Senator Cory Booker said: “During my time as Mayor and as Senator, I have seen firsthand how the Brownfields program revitalizes communities. I am proud that the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is delivering significant investment in restoring brownfield sites across New Jersey. These federal dollars will protect the health and well-being of communities and promote unrealized economic opportunity.”

Senator Bob Menendez said: “I have long championed critical federal programs like Brownfields and Superfund that help clean up contaminated waste sites, and I’m proud to have helped secure this funding in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Today’s announcement will help communities across the state not only protect the environment and improve public health, but also spur new growth and economic opportunity for residents. I thank the Biden Administration for their continued support for our families and their steadfast commitment to environmental justice for underserved communities and communities of color that too often shoulder the burden of legacy pollution.”

Camden Mayor Victor Carstarphen said: “I commend President Biden’s Administration and our congressional delegation of Senator Bob Menendez, Senator Cory Booker, and Congressman Donald Norcross for their efforts to ensure Camden receives this critical allocation.  These contaminated sites are tremendous environmental challenges, public health risks, and problematic for future growth. The $3.5 million Brownfields Revolving Loan funding will help to provide a solution to these longtime nuisance properties.  The US Environmental Protection Agency have been an outstanding partner, and this is yet another example of their pledge to our City. This program is a step in the right direction as we improve the quality of life throughout Camden.”

Camden City Council President Angel Fuentes said: “This is great news for Camden and our residents. Environmentally challenged communities like Camden have been viewed as dumping ground for far too long. This funding will go a long way to change that mindset and clean up our City. These otherwise useless sites can now be transformed into community assists and catalysts for new development opportunities.”

Camden Redevelopment Agency Board Chairperson Ian Leonard said: “The Camden Redevelopment Agency (“CRA”) is pleased to receive a $3.5 million in supplemental Brownfield Revolving Loan Funds awarded by the EPA. EPA has long been such a staunch supporter of the City of Camden, the CRA, and its strategic partners’ collective efforts to uplift and improve the quality of life for Camden residents.  As an industrial legacy city, development in Camden almost always involves addressing contaminated property. The ability to effectuate positive change in redeveloping our city with partners like the EPA and the DEP at the state and federal level is key to achieving those environmental justice changes in Camden that we all envision.” 

Camden Redevelopment Agency Interim Executive Director Olivette Simpson said: “The Camden Redevelopment Agency and the City of Camden are excited to have the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) select us for an award of $3.5 million in additional Brownfields Revolving Loan funding (RLF). For several decades, EPA has been a committed partner to the City and a true champion for the residents of Camden. EPA’s support has helped the CRA and the City to make substantial investments within our residential neighborhoods that have suffered the injustices associated with living among high concentrations of vacant, contaminated and underutilized property. These investments have allowed for the cleanup of new and existing recreation and park spaces and former abandoned factories where new housing will be constructed. With the supplemental EPA RLF funding, we are able to continue this important work to remediate former industrial and illegal dumping sites for productive and equitable reuse.”

“Supporting communities as they work to clean up, revitalize, and redevelop contaminated properties is critical for stimulating economic growth and building a stronger and fairer New Jersey economy,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Under Governor Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey has made great strides to ensure the equitable environmental and economic well-being of every New Jersey resident, regardless of zip-code. Funding from the EPA Brownfields Community-wide Assessment Grant will allow the NJEDA to provide greater support for communities looking to remediate vacant and underutilized properties, therefore prioritizing the environmental, social, and economic needs of New Jersey’s neighborhoods and distressed communities.”

Additional Background

A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. Redevelopment made possible through the program includes everything from grocery stores and affordable housing to health centers, museums, greenways, and solar farms.   

The next National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on August 16-19, 2022, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing former commercial and industrial properties. EPA co-sponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Conference registration is open at www.brownfields2022.org.

For more on Brownfields Grants: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields/types-brownfields-grant-funding

For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: https://www.epa.gov/brownfields

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