US EPA halts methane rule for oil and gas industry

US EPA halts methane rule for oil and gas industry

US EPA halts methane rule for oil and gas industry

Potential brownfield properties in East Austin will be eligible for remediation efforts in the coming years thanks to two grants from the federal Environmental Protection Agency totaling $300,000.

These funds will provide communities with resources necessary to determine the extent of site contamination, remove environmental uncertainties and clean up contaminated properties where needed.

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The money will pay for two phases of assessment to determine if a site has hazardous materials in its ground or water or in an existing building, and can also be used to fund creation of a cleanup plan and the sometimes decades of reporting needed for the potentially environmentally risky sites.

Whitney said one possible site that could receive testing and other brownfield work is the former Brackenridge Hospital site on I-35, which has been designated for redevelopment into a mixed-use property that will include affordable housing.

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"EPA Brownfields Assessment dollars have been imperative to Big Sky Economic Development's work to encourage and spur economic development within Billings and the East Billings Urban Renewal District, now a tax increment financing area previously thought to be undevelopable because of contamination perceptions", said Steve Arveschoug, executive director of BSED. Approximately $17.5 million of the assessment and cleanup funding announced will benefit small and rural communities with populations less than 10,000. Brownfield sites are community assets due to their locations and associated infrastructure advantages.

Studies have shown that residential property values near brownfield sites that are cleaned up increased between 5 and 15 percent and can increase property values in a 1.24-mile radius of that site, according to a press release announcing the grant. A study analyzing data near 48 brownfield sites shows that an estimated $29 to $97 million in additional tax revenue was generated for local governments in a single year after cleanup. The EPA estimates that there are more than 450,000 brownfields across the U.S. Brownfield contaminants range from spilled oil and gasoline to dumped solvents, waste polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, and other chemicals. Its brownfield program consists of three parts, site assessment, end use planning and a revolving loan fund for private landowners cleaning up brownfield sites.

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