Environmental GrantsHave you ever considered applying for environmental grants?

Whether you’re a municipality or some other public entity or you’re a private landowner, the process of determining whether property is contaminated and then cleaning it up can be extremely complex and extremely expensive. Like everything else, the cost of remediation is rising. And the longer properties remain contaminated, the costs to humans, animals and our natural environment continue to escalate, too.  You should also look into the superfund sites program.

Fortunately, grant money may be available to help pay for initial assessment as well as remediation and restoration of brownfield sites. Funding is made possible by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates hazardous chemicals and other materials nationally, working in conjunction with state and sometimes local jurisdictions.

Environmental grants can be a godsend, helping property owners and communities better understand the extent of problems and enabling them to proceed with cleanup plans when budgetary constraints would otherwise create delay. The goal, of course, is to restore a healthy landscape as quickly as possible, thereby restoring public confidence and eliminating worries about ongoing hazardous conditions.

Who is eligible to apply?

State, local and tribal governments may apply for grant funding, although certain Alaskan tribes cannot participate. Other eligible applicants include “general purpose units” of local government, land clearance authorities and similar quasi-governmental entities, regional councils or redevelopment agencies, state legislatures and even relevant non-profit organizations.

There are different types of environmental grants, designed for specific stages in the environmental remediation process.

Assessment grants.

These early-stage grants can help you pay for a variety of activities designed to make sure all contaminated properties are identified and listed. That includes conducting an inventory, researching past uses of properties to understand and describe the site more accurately, developing a plan for remediation and property redevelopment, and providing ongoing communication to keep the public informed and engaged in the process.

Community-wide assessment grants are also available, if your locale has multiple brownfield sites or you need to identify exactly where sites are located to complete the listing process.

You may receive a grant of up to $200,000 for each site defined as “contaminated by hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants (including hazardous substances co-mingled with petroleum)” or for sites contaminated by petroleum only. It’s possible to obtain a waiver extending the limit to $350,000, if the level of contamination you expect to uncover is particularly high. Or you can form a coalition of three or more eligible applicants and apply for a single grant up to $1,000,000.

You must complete all work covered by the grant within three years.

Cleanup grants.

These grants help cover expenses associated with site remediation. Sites have to meet the same description as for assessment grants, and you must own the property in question at the time you apply for a cleanup grant.

You may receive up to $200,000 per site. Unfortunately, however, there is less funding available for cleanup, so you cannot apply for assistance with more than three sites. You’re also required to put up a funding match – at least 20% of EPA’s share, not including administrative costs. The match may be in the form of cash, in-kind contributions of materials, labor or other services. You can apply for a hardship waiver for relief from the match share.

You must complete all work covered by the grant within three years.

Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Grants.

The Environmental Protection Agency also provides funding to create an ongoing pool of funds that are locally administered to assist with brownfield cleanup. The goal is to leverage both federal and local available resources. Loan repayments capitalize future loans.

Government grants are competitive, and applying for them can be time-consuming and complicated. It’s no different for environmental grants. An environmental engineering consultant can give you valuable advice or help you through the process to improve your chances of success.  You can find more resources for Walden.