Should You Be Pursuing an EPA Brownfields Grant? Now is the Time to Decide

Author: Seth Otto, AICP, LEED AP Published: September 2, 2022

This post was originally written by Sarah Sieloff, former MFA Senior Planner.

Why first-movers may see advantages this year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, sort of. EPA recently released updates related to this year’s competition for grants in its Brownfields Program. The 2022 call for grant applications is expected to open in mid-September and close in mid-November. For local governments and other stakeholders with a redevelopment opportunity on the docket, now is the time to consider whether this year is your year to apply, and there are some powerful reasons to consider making the effort. In short:

  • We are seeing exceptionally high levels of funding available for the EPA Brownfields Program ($300 million more per year, to be exact) thanks to the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
  • These elevated funding levels will continue through 2026, but those who can muster an application this year may be able to reap a first-mover advantage. As time goes on and word of this program spreads, the number of applicants will likely continue to grow. By submitting an application this year, applicants may be able to beat the later rush.

Bottom line: Beat the crowd and consider applying now. Applicants who submit this year may see some benefits in being early adopters (and if you’re successful, you may even be able to go back for a second grant before the current funding infusion runs out in 2026).

How much funding is expected for these EPA Brownfield Grants

Here’s a cheat sheet showing what’s on offer this year. More details are available at EPA’s website.

Grant Type Maximum Project Period Maximum Amount Per Grant Estimated Number of Awards Total Per Grant Type – Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funds Total Per Grant Type – Regular Appropriated Funds
Multipurpose 5 years $800,000 17 X $14 million
Community-Wide Assessment Grants for States and Tribes 5 years $2,000,000 17 $35 million X
Assessment Coalitions (Groups of Three Government and/or Tribal Entities) 4 years $1,000,000 20 X $20 million
Community-Wide Assessment—New(a) 4 years $500,000 36 X $18 million
Community-Wide Assessment—Existing(b) 4 years $500,000 25 X $12.5 million
Revolving Loan Fund—New(c) 5 years $1,000,000 10 $10 million X
Cleanup 4 years $500,000-$2,000,000 8-40 $60 million X

(a)Community-Wide Assessment—New = Entities that have never received an EPA Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, or Cleanup Grant, or that have been awarded a Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, or Cleanup Grant that closed in 2014 or earlier.

(b)Community-wide Assessment—Existing = Entities that have an open Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, or Cleanup Grant, or that were awarded a Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, or Cleanup Grant that closed in 2015 or later.

(c)Revolving Loan Fund—New = Entities that do not have or are not part of (i.e., a coalition member) an open cooperative agreement for a Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund at the time of application.

How can a Brownfields Program grant help you

Brownfields Program grants can support planning and community engagement, environmental assessment, and cleanup for redevelopment. Since the mid-1990s, communities have used these grants to build everything from parks to affordable housing and industrial facilities.

Notably, EPA has set aside $18 million for community-wide assessment grants for first-time grantees. This is great news for those that have not previously pursued a Brownfields Program grant. Community-wide assessment grants can be powerful tools for identifying and assessing multiple sites for community-serving initiatives such as affordable housing or economic development, two land-use types that are perpetually in high demand. Brownfields grants are also an important part of the federal government’s efforts to prioritize environmental justice and reduce the impact of pollution and contamination on disadvantaged communities, such as low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and communities of color.

Next steps: Walk softly and have access to a large grant

These grants are highly competitive, and we can help you strategize to win one. These grants are making positive impacts in communities around the country, from big cities to rural communities with a few hundred residents. In recent years, MFA has assisted the Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority and Lincoln City, Oregon, in successful bids for Brownfields grants.

Could your community be next to benefit from this resource? Don’t delay—with the window for grant applications opening in mid-September, now is the time to make a decision about whether to apply. For anyone interested,

Remember, other grants are available, but these EPA grants are significant, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act represents a once-in-a-generation infusion of cash into the Brownfields Program. Let us help you bring some home to your community.

Interested in learning about more federal and state funding opportunities?

Visit our Funding, Financing & Grant Support page

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Seth Otto, AICP, LEED AP

Principal Planner
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