Committing more money to redeveloping blighted sites around Ohio is key to creating jobs and developing communities, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said Wednesday.
Brown, a Democrat, said he is among sponsors of a bill that would provide additional money to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency brownfields program, as well as add nonprofit groups to entities eligible for grants.
Brown released a list Wednesday of more than 250 brownfield sites, more than 30 of which are in Greater Cincinnati. Among them are the former Stearns and Foster mattress factory in Lockland and the MetroWest development in Lower Price Hill.
Brownfield sites are abandoned or idled parcels of industrial or commercial land available for reuse. However, they typically face redevelopment hurdles because of past contamination by hazardous materials or other pollutants.
Currently, up to $200,000 is provided for site remediation. Brown’s bill raises that to $500,000 and lets the EPA administrator use discretion to expand it to $650,000.
“We need to act so that not one family, not one business is forced to move” because of a nearby blighted property, Brown said.
Brown said the bill includes a provision to extend the appropriation through 2016, in efforts to free it from the uncertainty facing many other federal programs. Technical assistance also would be available for rural or low-income communities, waterfront sites and renewable energy facilities.
Brown said that since 1992, the EPA has given nearly 140 grants in Ohio for site assessments, cleanup, revolving loans and job training.