In 1995, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the Brownfields Tribal Response Program and has since then, grown into a principal nationwide plan of environmental restoration. In 2013, the Bad River Band began a Brownfields Program funded by grant monies provided by the EPA.
The term "Brownfield" is defined as an abandoned, idled or under-used real property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by the presence or potential presence of environmental contamination.
Brownfields include underground storage tanks, Methamphetamine labs, abandoned or under used buildings, and open dumps.
See where the five known brownfield sites are located on the Bad River Reservation
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, state and tribal response programs play a significant role in cleaning up Brownfields. As Congress recognized in the legislative history of the Brownfields Law, "The vast majority of contaminated sites across the nation will not be cleaned up by the Superfund program. Instead, most sites will be cleaned up under State authority." Prior to the passage of the Brownfields Law, EPA developed a framework for negotiations between EPA regions and states regarding State Voluntary Cleanup Programs. This preliminary framework was the precursor to how EPA works with states and tribes today.
The EPA also states that the continued demand for Brownfields cleanup and redevelopment in communities throughout the country, coupled with increasingly limited state and tribal resources, makes access to federal funding critical. The law authorizes EPA to provide up to $50 million in grants to states and tribes to establish or enhance their response programs. Generally, these response programs address the assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment of Brownfields. In 2003, EPA distributed almost $50 million among all 50 states, 30 tribes, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. This funding will enable states and tribes to develop or enhance their response program's infrastructure and capabilities. For some recipients, the funding will provide an opportunity to create new response programs to address contaminated properties. States and tribes also can use the new funding to capitalize a revolving fund for cleanup, purchase environmental insurance, or develop other insurance mechanisms to provide financing for cleanup activities. In addition, the funds can be used to establish or maintain the statutorily required public record, to oversee cleanups, and to conduct site-specific activities.
The EPA provides financial assistance to states and tribes, which increases their capacity to meet the Brownfields cleanup and redevelopment challenges. It will also help to ensure that properties are cleaned up safely, according to state and tribal standards to protect Human Health and the Environment. Funding for this program is to meet the four program management activities that include but not limited to;
- Timely Survey and Inventory of Brownfield Sites.
- Oversight and enforcement Authorities or Other mechanisms and Resources.
- Mechanisms and Resources to Provide Meaningful Opportunities for Public Participation.
- Mechanisms for Approval of a Cleanup Plan and Verification and Certification that Clean-up are Complete