The City of Austin was selected to receive two grants totaling $300,000 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help clean up brownfields, unused land that may be contaminated with hazardous chemicals.
The money will go to the city’s Brownfields Revitalization Program to assess properties that may be contiminated by hazardous materials. The city says the land must provide some community benefit, like be turned into a park or greenspace.
Historically, the city was zoned in such a way that a lot of polluting industry was put in East Austin. Now, as the population shifts in that direction, a lot of developers are coming in only to discover the ground is polluted. Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the EPA grants would "finally address environmental justice while providing economic equity for that area of town."
“Every dollar towards brownfields clean-up in the Eastern Crescent gives back $16 in jobs and economic opportunities for the community," he said. [A press release from the mayor incorrectly said $18. This post has been updated to reflect the correct figure.]
The EPA said it is committed to working with communities to redevelop these sites and that the grants, which it awarded to 172 communities Wednesday, are intended to "help communities turn abandoned sites into economic drivers."
"The grants target communities that are economically disadvantaged and include places where environmental cleanup and new jobs are most needed," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said.