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In its ongoing efforts to promote economic revitalization and safeguard the environment and public health, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today announced the awarding of the first Brownfields Job Training grants under the new Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act of 2002.
EPA is awarding ten communities in seven states $200,000 each to provide environmental job training at Brownfields sites. Whitman made the announcement today during a visit to one of the award recipients, JFY Networks (formerly Jobs for Youth) in Boston.
Brownfields are abandoned, idled or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination of the soil and/or water.
"By training people to address their local Brownfields, we are not only helping to develop the skills needed to reclaim this land for the community, we are also training the next generation of environmental professionals," said Whitman. "This is a great program one that builds new partnerships for environmental progress, so that our children and grandchildren can live in a cleaner and healthier America."
In January 2002, President Bush signed into law the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, which authorizes up to $250 million per year for Brownfields grants, including up to $50 million for the assessment and cleanup of low-risk petroleum contaminated sites. The new legislation allows EPA to provide training to expedite assessment, remediation and preparation of Brownfields sites.
The job training grants are used to teach environmental-cleanup job skills to individuals living in low-income areas near Brownfields sites. The majority of participants who successfully complete the training program go on to pursue careers with environmental firms and organizations.
Since the job training program started in 1998, EPA has awarded 56 job training pilots totaling $10.7 million; 1366 participants have completed training; and 903 participants have obtained employment in the environmental field with an average hourly wage of $12.55.
Applicants for the Job Training program must be located in or near a community that currently receives, or has received, financial assistance from EPA for Brownfields-related activities.
Since its inception in 1995, the Brownfields Program, including today's announcement, has awarded 645 grants to assess Brownfields sites and to make loans to conduct cleanups.
To date, EPA's Brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $4.6 billion in private investment, helped create more than 20,000 jobs, and has resulted in the assessment of more than 4,000 properties.
Every acre of reclaimed Brownfields saves 4.5 acres of greenspace such as park and recreation areas.