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Changes are coming for grants that local governments use to clean up contaminated sites

(OLYMPIA)– It’s time to remake the grant process that helps local governments clean up contaminated, publicly owned property.

The public can comment through June 6, 2014, on proposed changes to the rule that governs the Remedial Action Grants (RAG) and Loans Program.  The Washington Department of Ecology uses funds generated by a voter-approved tax on hazardous substances to provide the grants and loans.  Cities, counties, port districts and other public entities can tap into the funds to help cover the costs of cleaning up contaminated sites they own.

The 2013 Washington Legislature made changes to the state’s cleanup law, the Model Toxics Control Act.  Lawmakers established new funding priorities for the grants and loans and directed Ecology to modify the program.   Among the changes, Ecology can now:

·       Enter into extended grant agreements with local governments for projects costing more than $20 million spread over multiple budget cycles.  Such projects receive priority for funds.

 ·       Provide grants for studies that help local governments plan to clean up and reuse contaminated sites.

 Other proposed changes include clarifying funding processes, updating funding limits and grant-match requirements, and streamlining and clarifying the rule.  The proposed rule changes and related documents are available for review on Ecology’s website.

Ecology will hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. May 29 at the agency’s Lacey headquarters at 300 Desmond Drive SE.  Staff will give a brief presentation on the rule changes, and then answer questions.  The hearing will start after the question-and-answer session.

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