PHILADELPHIA – (September 10, 2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has selected West Virginia University to receive an estimated $550,000 grant to help identify mine-scarred lands that are suitable for redevelopment into biofuels and other alternative energy production sites.
The EPA brownfields grant, — to be spread over four years — will be used by the university’s water research institute to provide technical assistance to rural Appalachian communities in identifying potential energy production sites called sustainable energy parks. These parks will generate local economic growth, decrease or offset greenhouse gases through carbon sequestration and promote renewable energy technologies.
"EPA’s brownfields initiatives have energized communities by breathing new life into abandoned properties, rebuilding tax bases, and providing valuable employment opportunities for local residents," said Donald S. Welsh, administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region. "We’re committed to building partnerships that ensure people in the local communities reap the benefits of brownfields redevelopment."
The grant to West Virginia University is one of 10 EPA grants awarded nationwide this year for brownfields training, research, and technical assistance projects that explore new and innovative ideas in the areas of human health, environmental protections, sustainable development, and equitable development.
"This significant milestone award is an outstanding compliment to the work West Virginia University is poised to execute as part of its advanced energy initiative – a strategy that will tackle America’s energy problems with innovative research and public policy development," said Dr. Curt Peterson, West Virginia University vice president for research and economic development. "Creation of sustainable energy parks on mine-scarred lands is the kind of strategy that this nation and its best thinkers and leaders must pursue in the drive toward energy independence."
Brownfields are sites where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. In January 2002, President Bush signed the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, which increased funding, expanded authority, and provided liability protection to help communities revitalize brownfields. EPA provides grants, technical assistance and training to support local brownfields efforts.