- By Brian Edwards
- Economic Development
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week announced $11.8 in federal funding to speed the assessment and cleanup of seven brownfield sites in Alaska.
Among the recipients are four Alaska Native Corporations that are receiving the EPA brownfields grants for the first time. The funds granted to Ahtna Inc., Aleut Corporation, Ounalashka Corporation and Cook Inlet Region Inc. will allow the ANCs to address contaminated sites conveyed through the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.
The funding is administered through the EPA’s Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grant programs as well as the Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities Program. The funds are being promoted as part of President Biden’s “Investing in America Agenda” and are part of the $1.5 billion boost that the EPA received from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“This historic investment from EPA’s Brownfields program demonstrates the Biden Administration’s commitment to building stronger neighborhoods and spurring economic development, especially in overburdened and underserved areas,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller. “These grants will help communities assess and clean up contaminated properties, which is often a catalyst for revitalization. We are proud that we can help these communities make progress and thrive.”
The four ANCs received $2 million each for projects in their communities, including:
- Ahtna, Inc. - $2,000,000 to conduct up to 20 Phase I and up to seven Phase II environmental site assessments, prepare a reuse and revitalization plan and to conduct community engagement activities. The target area for this grant is Ahtna lands.
- Aleut Corporation - $2,000,000 to conduct eight Phase I environmental site assessments, develop an area-wide plan and conduct cleanup planning and community outreach activities. The target area for this grant is Adak Island.
- Ounalashka Corporation - $2,000,000 to conduct 24 Phase I and 15 Phase II environmental site assessments, prepare 18 cleanup plans, 12 site-specific reuse plans, one area-wide reuse plan, and to create a redevelopment-focused brownfield site inventory. The target areas for this grant include Bunker Hill/Little South America, Pyramid Valley and Strawberry Hill within the City of Unalaska.
- Cook Inlet Region, Inc. - $2,000,000 to inventory sites and conduct 20 Phase I and 18 Phase II environmental site assessments, prepare eight reuse plans, eight cleanup plans, one area-wide plan, and to conduct community engagement activities including developing a Community Involvement Plan. The target area for this grant is the Kenai Peninsula Borough.
“The bipartisan infrastructure law continues to deliver significant investments to our state, making Alaskan communities healthier, stronger, and more resilient,” Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said in a statement. “I was proud to take a leading role in crafting the infrastructure law, and I’m glad to see over $11.6 million in investments through the EPA Brownfields Program are heading to Alaska—adding to the over $3.9 billion in transformational investments to our state announced already. By cleaning up previously unusable lands, Alaskans will have access to cleaner and safer lands that their communities can finally use.”
The funding is “an important step forward” to improve the environment across Alaska, including many areas that were contaminated by past government and commercial activity, according to U.S. Rep Mary Peltola (D-AK).
“Alaskans should be able to enjoy the full beauty of our lands, and these projects will help to identify sources of contamination, engage local communities, and prepare and execute cleanup plans,” Peltola said in a statement. “I will continue to advocate for the federal government to provide these resources to local communities, particularly when action is needed to remediate contamination from prior federal use.”
The other Alaskan recipients of EPA brownfields funding include the municipality of Anchorage, the city of Kake, and the city of Whittier. The Center for Creative Land Recycling also will receive $5 million to provide training and technical assistance to communities in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington under the Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities Program.