EPA Funding Boom Means Dollars for Local Projects

May 13, 2009

Last week the news from EPA was that the agency would not be sharing many of the draconian budget cuts other agencies suffered. Instead, EPA grant money going to state and local governments is increasing in fiscal 2010.

One result will be uptick in activity on many local environmental projects — which will translate into news stories in many localities.

Superfund hazardous waste cleanup projects had slowed from sparse funding during the Bush years. A new burp of money from the economic stimulus bill has cranked up construction schedules on many of the projects. And Congress is now discussing reinstating the tax on petrochemicals that originally funded many of the cleanups.

Leaky tanks at old gas stations create well-water pollution in many communities. EPA's Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) program grants state and local governments money to clean up tanks when station owners are unable to. The stimulus bill provided $190.7 million in new money for this program.

Another local beneficiary of the Recovery Act is the EPA-funded Brownfields Program, which returns contaminated and abandoned industrial properties to productive use. The Brownfields Program got some $100 million in new money under the Recovery Act (a five-fold increase).

Those amounts are dwarfed, however, by some $6 billion in Recovery Act funding for water quality, wastewater, and drinking water infrastructure projects. Most of this money is applied in the form of loans to local governments through state-administered revolving funds.