The US has an estimated 450,000 brownfields—properties where redevelopment is complicated by the presence of a pollutant or hazardous substance. Reinvesting in those areas not only improves and protects the environment but also creates opportunities for the communities to facilitate job growth.
The US Environmental Protection Agency established the Brownfields Job Training Program to ensure that residents of communities most affected by brownfields share in the cleanup benefits. In February, the EPA announced the selection of 19 organizations across the US to receive some $3.8 million in grants for the initiative.
The program's goal is to create a pool of skilled workers capable of meeting the environmental cleanup and green jobs industries' demand for workers. Rather than filling jobs with contractors from distant cities, local individuals complete the Brownfields Job Training Program. It helps participants overcome a variety of barriers to employment, and they typically graduate with a certification such as in lead and asbestos abatement, hazardous waste operations and emergency response, mold remediation, and environmental sampling and analysis.
This environmental health and safety training improves participants' employment marketability and helps ensure job opportunities are long-term careers, not just temporary contractual work.
"This program will directly impact people's lives, boosting the environmental workforce while helping to transform communities that need it the most," says EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan.