The EPA’s core mission centers around protecting human health and the environment by improving air quality, providing for access to clean and safe water, revitalizing land, preventing contamination, and ensuring safety of chemicals used in the marketplace.
Released in March, the EPA’s proposed full budget for FY 2020 is just over $6 billion dollars, a 31% reduction from 2019 authorized spending levels. Accelerating the pace of clean-ups to make sites productive again in their communities is a focus. $1.056 billion would be dedicated to remediating land and preventing future contamination, which includes RCRA Corrective Action, the Underground Storage Tank program, Superfund sites, the Brownfield grant programs and other clean-up/prevention programs. Despite the emphasis given to Brownfields, the Brownfield grant program would be cut by 33.4% if the budget is approved without changes. Of the $110.5 million dedicated to Brownfields, $31.8 million would be available to states and tribes through the Brownfield grant program, down from $47.8 million in 2018.
Federal grants supporting Brownfield remediation typically bring a 2 to 7 times return in tax revenue for every dollar spent. Other benefits include increased home values of 5-15% within a 1-mile radius of the remediated site, increased health and safety for residents in the community, new job opportunities (both for remediation/construction and for future businesses that are developed on the reclaimed land), and potentially even a decrease in nearby crime. Brownfield support is a significant issue, because approximately 40% of the US population lives within 3 miles of a Brownfield site that has received some Federal support.
EPA indicated in their budget that it can still perform their core functions even at a lower level of funding through effective utilization of their resources and by removing unnecessary regulatory burdens.