Idaho Senator Backs EPA Grants to Clean up Polluted Land

By Tom Bacon

Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is not generally a fan of the Environmental Protection Agency, but he's an active booster of one EPA program aimed at turning brown fields into green ones. Crapo is co-author of a new Senate bill called the Brownfields Utilization Investment and Local Development Act, a rather clunky title for a measure to help rehabilitate polluted and abandoned properties throughout Idaho and other states.

The idea is to have the EPA provide funding, through grants, to clean up property deemed unusable because of  contaminated soil. Crapo cited the City of Moscow, which got a model assessment grant four years ago to clean up five sites heavily polluted by past chemical, petroleum, and logging work. The Moscow grant focused on the Legacy Crossing Urban Renewal District along a railroad corridor where most of the property was blighted and unused.

Jeff Jones, who is an economic development specialist for the city, said benefits far outweigh the costs of the redevelopment project.

Crapo's bill would expand the brown fields program by increasing grant amounts, and by allowing tax exempt charitable groups to apply for the money, in addition to local governments and indian tribes.
He said there are about 450-thousand such sites nationwide; more than a thousand in Idaho alone.
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