Politics EPA sets grants to restore 'brownfields' at blighted sites
EPA moves to curb potent greenhouse gas coolants in first Biden climate regulation
The Environmental Protection Agency is moving to limit potent greenhouse gas refrigerants in the Biden administration’s first and likely least controversial regulation to curb climate change. © Provided by Washington Examiner The proposal, which EPA Administrator Michael Regan signed on Friday and the agency made public Monday, is born from bipartisan legislation passed as part of last year’s spending package.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday announced more than $66 million in grants to 151 communities nationwide to assess and clean up contaminated or abandoned "brownfields'' — industrial and commercial properties that contain a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. An estimated 450,000 brownfields, including abandoned industrial facilities, waste disposal sites and former gas stations, plague cities, towns and rural areas throughout the country.
“This is a significant opportunity for environmental justice communities and rural communities that for far too long have been living with blighted pieces of property. And now they can see on the horizon investment opportunities that will come to fruition," EPA Administrator Michael Regan said Tuesday in an interview.
Overnight Energy: Republicans request documents on Kerry's security clearance process| EPA official directs agency to ramp up enforcement in overburdened communities | Meet Flint prosecutor Kym Worthy
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About half the communities targeted for the latest EPA grants are receiving money from the program for the first time, and more than 85% are located in small communities, Regan said.
The grants “really tie into what we’ve been saying all along, which is environmental protection and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive, but they go hand in hand,'' Regan said.
President Joe Biden “rightfully sees this as a significant opportunity, which is why the American Jobs Plan calls for an additional $5 billion investment in brownfields and Superfund sites,'' Regan said, referring to Biden's $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal.
The plan also calls for major investments in pipes and other infrastructure for drinking water, wastewater and storm water.
Cuomo signs law to restore voting rights to parolees immediately
There has been a trend in recent years to restore felon voting rights, although some formerly incarcerated people face hurdles to get those rights restored. In Virginia, the Legislature has taken initial steps to pass a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights for people convicted of a felony. Last year, Iowa Republican Governor Kim Reynolds signed an executive order in 2020 allowing those previously incarcerated to vote. New Jersey restored voting rights for about 80,000 people on probation or parole in 2019. Florida voters passed Amendment 4 in 2018, which restored voting rights to an estimated 1.
“We are really tying that back to this notion that environmental justice and equity will be center stage at EPA and this administration,'' Regan said. “These resources will be going to the communities that need them the most.''
On other topics, Regan said the administration is working on a replacement to the clean water rule imposed by the Trump administration, as well as a plan to replace former President Barack Obama’s plan to address carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants.
Regan also said federal standards for automobile tailpipe emissions could be released as soon as this summer. The EPA and Transportation Department said last month they are moving to restore California’s ability to set its own tailpipe pollution standards.
On brownfields, targeted projects include $800,000 to Lincoln, Nebraska, to assess and clean 11 sites, including a former Nature’s Variety cold storage facility, a former grain elevator and International Harvester Building. Similar grants also will go to Rochester, N.Y.; New Bedford, Mass.; and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon.
Since its creation in 1995, EPA’s Brownfields Program has provided nearly $1.76 billion in grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return them to productive reuse. The program has helped create more than 175,000 jobs in cleanup, construction and redevelopment.
The grants announced Tuesday include $42.2 million for 107 assessment grants that will provide funding for brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessments and community outreach; $15.5 million for 36 cleanup grants to help pay for cleanup at brownfield sites; and $8.8 million for 11 multi-purpose grants that will provide funding to conduct a range of eligible assessment and cleanup activities at one or more brownfield sites.
EPA orders St. Croix refinery to shut down for 60 days due to 'imminent threat' to islanders' health .
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday announced that it had ordered a U.S. Virgin Islands oil refinery to close for at least 60 days due to concerns that its operations were posing an "imminent risk to public health." EPA Administrator Michael Regan in a press release unveiling the move said operations at Limetree Bay's St. Croix refinery will be paused "until we can be assured that this facility can operate in accordance with laws that protect public health.