Wyoming Receives $3 Million in Federal Funding Towards Cleaning Up Hazards Sites
On Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Wyoming will receive over $3 million to assess and clean up brownfield sites.
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will receive a grant of $2 million, the city of Cheyenne will get $500,000, and the Sheridan County Conservation District will receive $585,000 from the Brownfields cleanup grant.
A brownfield site is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.
According to a press release by the EPA, the Wyoming DEQ plans to conduct at least 35 environmental site assessments for brownfields and will use the grant funds to develop 11 cleanup and reuse plans.
Across Wyoming, those sites include several abandoned industrial manufacturing areas, former mine-energy peripheral areas, two vacant hotels, and several salvage yards and junkyards in the city of Laramie, Sweetwater County, and Carbon County.
The City of Cheyenne plans to use the brownfields grant to inventory sites and conduct 23 environmental site assessments and create five cleanup plans.
The Sheridan County Conservation District plans to clean up the buildings at the abandoned Acme Power Plant, which is contaminated with asbestos.
Carrie Rogaczewski, district manager of the Sheridan County Conservation District, said:
"We are extremely excited to be a recipient of a Cleanup Grant for the former Acme Power Plant. This grant, which will support asbestos abatement in the structures on this 5-acre site, will expand greenspace and recreational opportunities in the Tongue River Valley in Sheridan County Wyoming," Rogaczewski said. "Consistent with community priorities, cleanup and reuse of the Acme site will increase the availability of outdoor spaces for youth programs and recreation opportunities, promote sustainable reuse of an historic building or building materials, and eliminate asbestos exposure risks."
In this most recent grant cycle, the EPA provided around $254 million to 265 communities across the country, with the next cycle opening up in September.
While several communities in Wyoming were approved for the process, the city of Rawlins also applied for a brownfield grant totaling $500,000 but was not selected.
This is because, as Ted Lanzano, region 8 Brownfields Program Manager, said the grant process is competitive and there's not enough funding for everyone, even though they have around four times as much money to hand out for the next five years because of the recently passed infrastructure bill.
"It's a very competitive process, and the applicants put a lot of work into their proposals," Lanzano said. "Unfortunately, our grant funding can't meet the demand that's out there, and there are some applicants that did not get funded. Our recommendation is to try again next year because with the infrastructure funding, we're going to have opportunities to fund a lot more grants and we really encourage those applicants to try again for future funding."