AL waits for impact of EPA freeze on grant money

AL waits for impact of EPA freeze on grant money

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Multiple media reports have said the Trump Administration issued a freeze on Environmental Protection Agency grants and contracts.

That immediately prompted questions from state agencies like the Alabama Department of Environmental Management that typically oversees millions of dollars in EPA grant money going to state and local projects dealing with improving air and water quality, as well as re-developing poor communities.

The key question for Birmingham councilman William Parker, whose district was awarded $600,000 in EPA grants in 2016, would that freeze effect new grants or existing grants.

"It appears nothing will be taken away," ADEM spokeswoman Lynn Battle said late Tuesday afternoon.

An emailed statement from the EPA's Region 4 Office of External Affairs in Atlanta explained the current process as a review for the new administration.

"EPA staff have been reviewing grants and contracts information with the incoming transition team.  Pursuant to that review, the Agency is continuing to award the environmental program grants and state revolving loan fund grants to the states and tribes; and we are working to quickly address issues related to other categories of grants.  The goal is to complete the grants and contracts review by the close of business on Friday, Jan. 27," EPA employee James Pinkney responded in the email.

"We're going to continue to work hard and expect the federal agencies to continue to be our partner as we move forward to redevelop the north Birmingham community," Parker said.

The Collegeville community in north Birmingham has benefitted from a $400,000 "brownfield" grant to clean industrial pollution from residential properties. In addition, a $200,000 grant provides environmental jobs training in partnership with Lawson State Community College

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