Investing in Our Communities and Creating Jobs

Ed. Note: Check out this slideshow of former abandoned waste sites that have been revitalized with EPA investments.

Every American wants their air and water to be clean and the land where they live, work, play and learn to be free of pollution. But President Obama knows that these cleaner, healthier communities are also better places to buy a home or start a business – boosting local economies and creating jobs often in areas where they’re needed most. That’s why this Administration is investing in clean, green, sustainable communities that will help us win the future.

Since EPA’s brownfields program began less than a decade ago, it has spurred almost 70,000 American jobs. To build on this record of success, I’m in Lansing, Michigan today where I’m announcing $76 million in clean-up grants that will be used for projects throughout the nation.

With the help of local workers, we’ll turn tainted factories, deserted gas stations, closed smelters and some of the more than 450,000 other abandoned or contaminated sites throughout America into vibrant residential and retail districts filled with opportunities for American workers.

I chose Lansing to make this announcement because of the progress they’ve seen thanks to EPA and local funding that has helped to revitalize a distressed community. In recent years, a troubled auto industry put many Lansing residents out of work, while leaving in its wake vacant and often contaminated lots. But the community rallied back, and with the help of a $2 million brownfields grant, they leveraged about $230 million in private investments. Today they’re receiving additional funding to continue expanding their success.

We’ll soon see stories like this one unfold throughout the nation with the help of the funding being awarded today. Like in Chicago, where 575 children will benefit from a new school being built in a disadvantaged neighborhood where a vacant industrial property now lies. Or like in Nassau County, New York, where a park, hotel, affordable housing, and restaurant and retail space will be built on top of unused waterfront property – creating more than 7,700 local jobs. Eight-hundred more jobs will be created in Milwaukee, where a modern business park will replace a contaminated site that’s threatening the health of locals. And in Springfield, Missouri, a clean-up grant will transform a former rail yard into parks and leverage $6 million in private investments.

In reinvigorating these abandoned and often polluted sites – and hundreds of others across our country – we’ll improve our health at the same time that we strengthen our economy. These cleaner, healthier and more prosperous communities will also be more resilient and sustainable for our future.

Find more information on EPA’s brownfields program.

Lisa P. Jackson is the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
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