The Environmental Response Fund (ERF) is a grant program that funds the assessment and cleanup of contaminated sites.
ERF grants provide funding for a variety of activities at contaminated sites where the added environmental costs hinder site improvements or redevelopment. These are sites that present a threat to human health or the environment, provide community benefit from the cleanup and lack funding from other sources.
Activities funded by ERF grants include contaminated soil and groundwater assessment and cleanup as well as asbestos and lead-based paint evaluation and abatement. Priority is placed on projects that are intended as public or green spaces, establish affordable and moderately priced housing and promote economic development.
To date, Hennepin County has awarded 298 ERF grants totaling $43.4 million.
Grants are awarded semi-annually. Grant applications are due by May 1 and November 1 each year. Approximately $1 million to $2 million is distributed every grant round.
See applying for an ERF grant for the grant application and information about project selection, eligible applicants and eligible projects.
Grant recipients need to fill out a disbursement form and annual progress report.
ERF is funded by a county mortgage registry and deed tax. The state statute that provides the authority to collect funds for this program expired on January 1, 2013, and Hennepin County is seeking reinstatement of the authority to collect funds for ERF in the 2013 legislative session.
Hennepin County will not be able to continue this successful cleanup program if funding is not reinstated.
ERF grants spur economic growth by creating jobs, increasing property values, generating tax income, revitalizing neighborhoods and communities, and leveraging private and public investment. The need for ERF continues - there are more than 4,300 sites of concern for contamination in Hennepin County.
The Department of Environmental Services is recommending nine grants totaling $1,488,215 be awarded for the spring 2013 grant round.
In January, the Hennepin County Board awarded 10 grants totaling $1.2 million for the evaluation and cleanup of contaminated sites.
Grants were awarded for eight projects in Minneapolis, one project in Hopkins and one to address brownfields gap financing throughout the county. The grants will fund a variety of cleanup measures, including soil and groundwater evaluation, contaminated soil cleanup, and asbestos and lead-based paint abatement, at a variety of projects, including Surly Brewing’s new brewery, affordable housing developments, office and retail complexes and a veterans’ memorial park.
Hennepin County Environmental Services also has an EPA-funded Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund program available to assist with the investigation and cleanup of contaminated sites. A grant and loan package can be a favorable way to tackle larger projects.
For more information about grants and loans available to help cleanup contaminated lands, see the Minnesota Brownfields Resource Guide.
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