Administrator Jackson announces US$2m in brownfields job training funds to clean up our communities
Today in New Orleans, La., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson announced that EPA is awarding more than $2 million in job training grants for environmental cleanups in communities across the country. The agency’s Brownfields Job Training Program helps train people for jobs in the assessment, cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields properties, including abandoned gas stations, old textile mills, closed smelters, and other abandoned industrial and commercial properties. These investments target under-served and economically disadvantaged neighborhoods – places where environmental cleanups and new jobs are most needed.
“By recruiting, training and employing local residents to clean up the community, we get the best of both worlds: new jobs and a cleaner community,” said EPA Administrator Jackson. “Transforming abandoned and contaminated sites sets the stage for bustling business centers, new parks and other developments. It shows that the right thing to do for the environment is the right thing to do for the economy.”
Twelve governmental entities and non-profit organizations in 10 states are receiving up to $200,000 each to train people in the cleanup of these abandoned and possibly polluted properties, while also providing training in other environmental skills, such as green building design, energy efficiency, weatherization, solar installation, green construction, and native plant revegetation. In New Orleans, Administrator Jackson presented the award to Limitless Vistas, Inc., a training program that teaches inner-city youth job skills in environmental assessment and improvement, as well as the value of community service. Graduates are placed in environmental work-related jobs and their success is tracked for one year. Cleaning up our communities is one of EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s priorities, leading not only to health and environmental benefits but also economic development.
The brownfields job training grants will help recruit, train, and employ residents living near brownfields sites in California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Washington.
Since 1998, EPA has awarded more than $33 million in brownfields job training funds. The program prepares workers for employment in the new green economy, and ensures that the economic benefits derived from brownfields redevelopment remain in the affected communities. As of February 2010, more than 5,300 individuals have been trained through the Brownfields Job Training Grant Program, and 3,400 have been placed in full-time employment in the environmental field with an average starting hourly wage of $14.65.
In 2002, the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was passed. The brownfields law expanded the definition of what is considered a brownfield, so communities may now focus on mine-scarred lands, sites contaminated by petroleum, or sites contaminated as a result of the manufacturing and distribution of illegal drugs (e.g. meth labs). EPA’s Brownfields Program encourages redevelopment of America’s estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated waste sites.
As part of Administrator Jackson’s commitment to this program, the 2011 proposed budget includes an increase of $215 million for brownfields with increases for planning, cleanup, job training and redevelopment.
More information on brownfields job training grants: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/job.htm
More information on EPA’s Brownfields Program: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/
Brownfields success stories: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/success/index.htm