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story.lead_photo.caption This Sept. 21, 2017 file photo shows the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Building in Washington. Criminal prosecution and convictions of polluters haven fallen to quarter-century lows under the Trump administration. That's according to Justice Department figures for fiscal year 2019. The EPA says it's improved in some other enforcement categories. But a former EPA agent in charge says three years of declines show the agency dismantling criminal enforcement. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on Thursday that the city of Texarkana, Texas, will receive a $300,000 Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund grant.

The grant is part of $6.9 million in supplemental funding EPA is providing for 25 current successful Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (Revolving Loan) grantees.

The additional funding will support loans for three new projects: the historic Union Station, planned for redevelopment as a mixed use and event center; the Northwest portion of the former Kerr Magee/Tronox Facility, which offers a highly valuable industrial opportunity with the intersection of two major rail lines and two interstates; and the former Sears building, planned for mixed residential and retail use. These projects will complement Texarkana's impressive roster of Brownfields projects, which include the newly renovated Hotel Grim and the former Texarkana National Bank.

 "Since their Brownfields program started ten years ago, Texarkana has shown how effective these cleanups can be for turning neglected properties into community assets," said Regional Administrator Ken McQueen. "With these additional funds, the city will continue transforming new sites to benefit Texarkana's environment and the economy."

"EPA's Brownfields Revolving Loan Funding has been instrumental for redevelopment activities in our community and we appreciate this opportunity to continue our partnership with the EPA," said Mayor Bob Bruggeman.

"Our Brownfields Program is an invaluable economic development tool and we hope to continue a successful relationship with EPA Brownfields for years to come," said Director of Planning and Community Development David Orr.

"Texarkana's EPA RLF Program closes the financial gap for these difficult projects, and serves our community well as we begin to experience positive health and economic impacts in our community," said Brownfields Program Manager Daphnea Ryan.

All communities receiving supplemental funds have census tracks designated as federal Opportunity Zones within their jurisdiction. An Opportunity Zone is an economically distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. Most often, those who reside near these sites are low-income, minority, and disadvantaged Americans. When coupled with leveraged funds, such as other Brownfield grants or Opportunity Funds, Revolving Loans can be a powerful tool for revitalizing a community of need.

When Revolving Loans are repaid, the loan amount is returned to the fund and lent to other borrowers, providing an ongoing source of capital within a community. To date, EPA's Revolving Loan grantees across the country have completed 759 cleanups and attracted approximately 45,000 jobs and $8.4 billion in public and private funding.

BACKGROUND

A brownfield is a property where the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S.

Grants awarded by EPA's Brownfields Program provide communities across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and achieve broader economic development outcomes while taking advantage of existing infrastructure. Under President Trump, over 70% of the communities selected for Brownfields grants in 2019 were located in Opportunity Zones. Brownfields grants have been shown to:

 

BROWNFIELDS GRANTS HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO:

Increase Local Tax Revenue: A study of 48 brownfield sites found that an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional local tax revenue was generated in a single year after cleanup. This is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of these sites.

Increase Residential Property Values: Another study found that property values of homes near revitalized brownfield sites increased between 5% and 15% following cleanup.

 

As of February 2020, under the EPA Brownfields Program, 31,516 properties have been assessed and 92,047 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use. In addition, communities have been able to use Brownfields grants to attract 160,306 jobs and more than $31 billion of public and private funding.

The 2021 National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on April 26-30, 2021 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties. EPA cosponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.

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