Biden-Harris Administration Announces Investment to Recruit and Train California Workers for Community Revitalization Work | US EPA

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Biden-Harris Administration Announces Investment to Recruit and Train California Workers for Community Revitalization Work | US EPA


Latest funding for EPA’s Brownfield Job Training Grants is supported by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and will boost workforce training in underserved and overburdened communities

SAN FRANCISCO (Dec. 8, 2023) – Recently, the United States. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the selection of two California entities to receive a total of $944,000 for environmental job training programs as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The grants through EPA’s Brownfields Jobs Training Program will help recruit, train, and place workers for community revitalization and cleanup projects.

1.           Kern County Builders Exchange has been selected to receive $500,000 for their job training program. The Kern County Builders Exchange is a non-profit located in California’s Central Valley that, through its larger network, supports workers and community members in Kern, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Fresno, Tulare, and Kings Counties. The Builders Exchange plans to train 300 students under this Brownfields Job Training grant. They plan to specifically target underemployed community members and provide the skills and training needed to remediate idle oil and gas wells and other petroleum-related sites throughout the region. This approach has the dual benefit of providing trainees with the skills they need for a career in environmental remediation and supporting Central Valley’s continued energy transition.

2.           The City of Pittsburg has been selected to receive $444,000 for their Future Build Program. The program will continue its work to address public health and environmental justice in neighborhoods impacted by environmental harms. Pittsburg’s program serves community members who are unemployed or underemployed and focuses on providing support to students who are low-income. In addition to training students in various environmental health and safety topics, all students graduating from the program complete a project installing solar panel systems on the homes of low-income community members.

“President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is having a real-world impact on the ground here in California, creating good-paying jobs and revitalizing communities,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “Through these two Brownfields grants, EPA is investing in the next generation of environmental workers, helping them build the skills to clean up legacy pollution in communities across our state.”

“California is committed to expanding opportunity and driving sustainable economic growth all across our state” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “We thank the Biden-Harris Administration for furthering our efforts through these grants, which will help residents in Kern County and Pittsburg access valuable training and certifications for environmental jobs while helping to revitalize their communities.”

“I applaud the selection of Kern County Builders Exchange and the City of Pittsburg for the Brownfields Job Training Grant. This is an important investment that will boost the creation of hundreds of good-paying environmental jobs in communities impacted by hazardous pollution,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “I’ll continue working to bring additional essential investments for the cleanup and redevelopment of these lands for the health and safety of our communities, and to ensure that we deliver on the transformational change needed to build a green economy in the 21st century.”

“Getting people in California greater access to good-paying jobs is a huge priority of mine, and I’m pleased to see this important funding go to the City of Pittsburg and the Kern County Builders Exchange,” said Senator Laphonza Butler. “These grants will make a positive difference for hundreds of students in the East Bay and Central Valley by giving them the skills and training they need to thrive. They will get students ready for jobs that not only make our communities stronger, but also fit in line with our larger environmental goals. In the end, these are a win for our state, our economy, and our environment.”

“I am thrilled that the City of Pittsburg has been selected for the Brownfields Job Training Grant. This grant will enable the City and its partners to recruit and train residents of east Contra Costa into socially impactful and well-paying careers in the environmental remediation sector. Pittsburg has already taken great strides to clean up legacy environmental contamination in the area, and this grant will enable the City to finish this important work,” said Representative John Garamendi.

“Kern County and California’s Central Valley’s energy industry continues to transition,” said Kern County Builders Exchange Executive Director Mikin Plummer. “The EPA’s Brownfields Job Training funding provides opportunities for workers from the energy industry to develop the environmental expertise for brownfield remediation that comes with these changes. We look forward to both the individual impact for a worker’s career, and the community transformation they’ll support.”

“The careers available to Future Build graduates of this EPA program are in-demand and important for moving the needle toward statewide environmental and local workforce targets,” said City of Pittsburg Council Member Juan Banales. “With a nearly 90% placement rate of graduates, we look forward to partnering with the EPA in enriching the lives of several more in our East County underserved communities.”

Nationwide, these grants will provide funding to organizations that are working to create a skilled workforce in communities where assessment, cleanup, and preparation of so called brownfield sites for reuse activities are taking place. Individuals completing a job training program funded by EPA often overcome a variety of barriers to employment and several are from historically underserved neighborhoods or reside in the areas that are affected by environmental burdens.

Job training and workforce development are an important part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advance economic opportunities and address environmental justice issues in underserved communities. All of the FY24 Brownfields Job Training Program applications selected across the United States. have proposed to work in areas that include disadvantaged communities as defined by the Climate & Economic Justice Screening Tool, delivering on President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative which aims to deliver at least 40% of the benefits of certain government investments to underserved and overburdened communities. 

Under the Brownfields Jobs Training Program, individuals typically graduate with a variety of certifications that improve their marketability and help ensure that employment opportunities are not just temporary contractual work, but long-term environmental careers. This includes certifications in: 

  1. Lead and asbestos abatement, 
  2. Hazardous waste operations and emergency response, 
  3. Mold remediation, 
  4. Environmental sampling and analysis, and 
  5. Other environmental health and safety training

For more information on the selected Brownfields Job Training Grant recipients, including past grant recipients, please visit EPA’s Grant Factsheet Tool.

Background

President Biden’s leadership and bipartisan congressional action have delivered the single-largest investment ever made in United States. brownfields infrastructure. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests more than $1.5 billion through EPA’s highly successful Brownfields Program, which is helping more communities than ever before begin to address the economic, social, and environmental challenges caused by the legacy pollution at brownfield sites. 

Since 1998, EPA has announced 414 grants totaling over $100.5 million through Brownfield Job Training Programs. With these grants, more than 21,500 individuals have completed training and over 16,370 individuals have been placed in careers related to land remediation and environmental health and safety. The average starting wage for these individuals is over $15 an hour.

Learn more about EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. Connect with us on Facebook and on X.

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