February 02, 2005

Idaho Communities Awarded EPA Grants

Delegation notes competitive brownfields grants are the first ever for Idaho

Washington, DC â?? For the first time, federal competitive brownfields cleanup grant money is coming to Idaho. Four Idaho communities will share in over $500,000 in grant funds, largely due to the efforts of the Idaho congressional delegation. Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig and Idaho Representatives Mike Simpson and C.L. â??Butchâ?? Otter have worked hard over the last two years to convince the Environmental Protection Agency that brownfields grants must be provided equitably to rural communities.The four Idaho entities receiving funds include:·Caldwell$200,000 for assessment·Capital City Development Corporation, Boise $200,000 for assessment·Salmon Urban Renewal Agency$95,000 for cleanup·Washington County$85,675 for assessmentâ??Brownfieldsâ?? is the term used to describe property that is unavailable for development due to environmental contamination. Such properties are often difficult to revitalize, which can stall economic growth through a fear of liability or a lack of funding to clean up such sites.Crapo, who serves on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee which maintains oversight of the EPA, said, â??The grants announced today mark a significant achievement for rural communities. Rural communities deserve the same economic benefits afforded to larger, more urban communities. Economic revitalization efforts are underway in many Idaho communities, and it is important that those efforts receive fair consideration for government grants.â??Craig said, â??These grants are an acknowledgement by EPA that resource-based economies such as Idaho's have brownfields redevelopment needs like other states. Idaho certainly has more than its share of wide open spaces, but it is still best for our communities to remediate and reuse these brownfields. These EPA grants will help us do that.â??â??It's good to see that Idaho communities are getting the chance to make a real difference. I have a lot of faith in folks like those in Caldwell, Boise, Salmon and Weiser to make the right choices for protecting and improving the place they call home. Programs like this enable them to do that,â?? said Otter, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials. â??I'm pleased to see these critical resources headed to Idaho communities where I know they will do a great deal of good. I commend the people of the communities that received these grants for their efforts to protect the environment and improve their cities,â?? said Simpson, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the EPA.This morning, the EPA announced approximately $75 million in brownfield grants to over 260 applicants through the country. Detailed information on each grant can be obtained at http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/. The grant program was created through the Small Business Liability Relieft and Brownfields Revitalization Act which was signed into law by President Bush in January 2002. The grants provide direct funding for cleanup activities and for brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessment and community outreach.Idahoâ??s congressional delegation has worked with EPA officials for more than a year to encourage development of a specific rural component to the brownfields program. In a July 2003 delegation letter lead by Senator Craig to the EPA Acting Administrator outlining the concerns, the delegation noted that out of 177 awards made in June 2003, only 44, or 25 percent, of the grants were in the western United States with only 10 grants in the Intermountain West.# # #