Brownfields grant to fund assessments and advance environmental justice in San Juan, Carolina, Juncos and Humacao
June 7, 2023
San Juan, PR – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that LEAP Social Enterprise, Inc. will receive a $500,000 Brownfields Assessment grant to conduct environmental assessments and develop approximately eight cleanup plans at high-priority properties in Puerto Rico. The target areas for this grant are Río Piedras, Carolina and the PR-198 Corridor between Juncos and Humacao. Among the priority sites there are schools that closed and not in used.
“EPA is investing in America through its Brownfields program. The program lifts the financial burden of communities cleaning up contaminated sites, especially underserved and overburdened communities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “This funding will pave the way for cleaning up sites, to bring back their economic potential—including former schools—and redeveloping them for the benefit of Puerto Rican communities. An initial investment in Brownfields is a real investment in children, families, neighbors, and communities, and we at EPA are happy to support that investment here in Puerto Rico.
On the other hand, Dr. Gloria Bonilla, director of LEAP Enterprise, added that “the acquisition of this aid will allow us to clean the school Gerardo Sellés Solá and the areas that are nearby. This way we can begin to move forward with the construction of what will become the LEAP STEAM + E Resilience Community.” According to Bonilla, the center will count with health and welfare services, development of environmental sustainability and the creation of business leaders. “We have announced that this center is part of the expansion of the LEAP project in Puerto Rico and that our vision is to turn it into a link to economic growth for all the communities near us in San Juan and its neighboring municipalities. We are so thankful for the help that we have received for the development of these projects that have a direct impact in the entire community, “expressed Bonilla.
“During the rapid industrialization of Puerto Rico in the past century, many communities have been impacted by pollution creating a challenge to long term health and safety, and also to their ability to redevelop and give new uses to the sites particularly in the Metropolitan Area and in the Southeastern Puerto Rico. The EPA funding through the MARC brownfields grants is a valuable tool to address these situations and enable long term recovery. The additional availability of this funding through bipartisan legislation in Congress will help extend this program to even more communities,” said Rep. Jenniffer González Colón.
The funds announced today are part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda to expedite the assessment and cleanup of brownfields sites while advancing environmental justice through the Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup (MARC) Grant programs. In May, EPA announced the largest ever funding awarded in the history of the EPA Brownfields MARC Grant programs, thanks to the historic boost from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Many communities that are under economic stress, particularly those located in areas that have experienced long periods of disinvestment, lack the resources needed to initiate brownfield assessment, cleanup and redevelopment projects. As brownfield sites are transformed into community assets, they attract jobs, promote economic revitalization, and transform communities into sustainable and environmentally just places.
Thanks to the historic $1.5 billion investment from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA’s Brownfields Program is helping more communities than ever begin to address the economic, social and environmental challenges caused by brownfields and stimulate economic opportunity and environmental revitalization in historically overburdened communities.
EPA’s Brownfields Program also advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative to direct 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments to disadvantaged communities. Approximately 84% of the MARC program applications selected to receive funding proposed to work in areas that include historically underserved communities.
EPA’s Brownfields Program began in 1995 and has provided nearly $2.37 billion in Brownfield Grants to assess and clean up contaminated properties and return blighted properties to productive reuse. EPA’s investments in addressing brownfield sites have leveraged more than $36 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. Communities that previously received Brownfields Grants used these resources to fund assessments and cleanups of brownfields, and successfully leverage an average of 10.6 jobs per $100,000 of grant funds spent and $19.78 for every dollar.
More on Brownfields Grants.
More on EPA’s Brownfields Program.