Federal Environmental and Health Agencies

The first and most comprehensive source of reliable information regarding the Brownfields Initiative is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA’s technical assistance is available at four different levels.

  1. EPA website
  2. EPA national headquarters
  3. EPA regional offices
  4. Hazardous Materials Training and Research Institute (HMTRI) under cooperative agreement with EPA

Surfing the EPA website is a vital first step in becoming familiar with EPA programs, including Brownfields and the overall mission of the organization. It is an excellent resource for technical assistance on several environmental topics. Access to information on the website is intuitive and clearly displayed. Links to other organizations and federal agencies provide pathways to topics not specifically addressed by the EPA.

The EPA is organized with headquarters in Washington D.C. and ten regional offices across the country. The focus of EPA headquarters is on national issues such as legislation, appropriations, and national program oversight and guidance. Selected programs are directly administered from headquarters.

The regional offices perform most day-to-day operations. Regional offices are largely responsible for the implementation and project management of Brownfields activities in their region. Each region is organized to advocate national programs. For example, regional offices have Brownfields remediation site coordinators as well as Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) program coordinators to provide guidance, oversight, and assistance to grantees.

If an organization is seriously interested in developing an EWDJT program, the first step is to communicate with the EPA regional job training coordinator for the region in which the program will be located. It is important to begin establishing contact in the early stages of program development as assistance provided at that time could be of immeasurable value. Coordinators are familiar with programs in the region, track those programs, and provide guidance. In addition, most regional coordinators have developed an inventory of useful contacts and resources.

The Brownfields section of EPA’s website provides information about land revitalization, including names and contact information of Brownfields coordinators in each region. This site also provides a list of individuals at national, state, and regional levels who are available to assist cleanup and redevelopment efforts at Brownfields sites. These individuals are a valuable resource for Brownfields stakeholders by providing support and guidance on applicable laws, regulations, policies, and technical assistance associated with the selection of technologies. Contact information for EPA regional job training coordinators is also included as part of the EWDJT Request for Proposals (RFP).

It should be noted that after the EWDJT RFP has been issued, regional job training coordinators are not able to provide guidance on specific proposals. They are, however, able to engage in public discussion and answer specific questions about the RFP. For this reason, it is wise to contact the regional coordinator prior to issuance of the RFP.

EPA regional map

EPA regional map – Source: U.S. EPA (http://www.epa.gov/epahome/regions.htm)

(EPA Region 1) serving CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, and VT

(EPA Region 2) serving NJ, NY, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and eight Tribal Nations

(EPA Region 3) serving DE, DC, MD, PA, VA, and WV

(EPA Region 4) serving AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN, and six Tribal Nations

(EPA Region 5) serving IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI, and 35 Tribal Nations

(EPA Region 6) serving AR, LA, NM, OK, TX, and 66 Tribal Nations

(EPA Region 7) serving IA, KS, MO, NE, and nine Tribal Nations

(EPA Region 8) serving CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY, and 27 Tribal Nations

(EPA Region 9) serving AZ, CA, HI, NV, Pacific Islands, and 148 Tribal Nations

(EPA Region 10) serving AK, ID, OR, WA, and 271 Native Tribes

HAZARDOUS MATERIALS TRAINING AND RESEARCH INSTITUTE (HMTRI)

HMTRI provides technical assistance to communities interested in developing and delivering environmental job training programs. HMTRI also provides assistance to EPA-funded EWDJT grantees. These efforts are performed through cooperative agreements with the EPA. HMTRI, part of Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, has been providing workforce development technical assistance since the inception of the Brownfields program.

HMTRI TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE SERVICES OVERVIEW

Brownfields Toolbox Website—The Brownfields Toolbox website is the HMTRI repository and archive for all things related to environmental workforce development and job training. Some of the resources available on the website include:

  • EPA and HMTRI announcements and events
  • Environmental training resources and events
  • Grant and leveraging opportunities
  • Professional Learning Community (PLC) post-session notes and audio recordings
  • Annual Environmental Job Development All-Grantee Meeting resources and downloads
  • Information on the various program components needed to start a job training program that includes:
    • EWDJT application process
    • Funded or not funded—What to expect and things to consider
    • Community and labor market assessments
    • Building partnerships
    • Funding sources
    • Recruitment and assessment
    • Developing training programs
    • Support services
    • Placement and tracking
    • Program maintenance and sustainability
    • Technical assistance
    • Commonly used environmental acronyms
  • Interactive map of EWDJT locations
  • EWDJT grantee contributions
  • Grantee photos and milestone events
  • EWDJT awareness materials
  • Certified Employee Finder

Annual Environmental Job Development All-Grantee Meeting—The Annual Environmental Job Development All-Grantee Meeting provides a unique opportunity for EWDJT grantees to share a variety of approaches to Brownfields job training and workforce development. At the two-day meeting, participants exchange information and ideas with each other and with EPA regional and headquarters representatives in both small- and large-group sessions. The goal of the meeting is to assist grantees to develop and deliver their best possible job training program.

Examples of some of the information shared at the meeting include:

  • Program guidelines, expectations, and legal issues
  • Initiatives that support and interact with Brownfields activities
  • Technical assistance resources and sources
  • EWDJT health and safety awareness
  • Strategies for:
    • Recruitment
    • Placement
    • Tracking
    • Partnering
    • Student services
    • Retention
    • Project plans, implementation, and reporting

Annual Environmental Job Development All-Grantee Update Webinar—An annual update webinar is held approximately six months after the Annual Environmental Job Development All-Grantee Meeting. This webinar allows grantees to exchange and share information, ideas, and best practices; network as a group more than once a year; and reminds them of the importance of networking throughout the year.

Grantee and Community Outreach Listserv—The Grantee and Community Outreach listserv is used to post information, announcements, and inquiries related to workforce development. Examples of posts include:

  • Professional Learning Community (PLC) announcements and session reminders
  • Funding announcements including EWDJT and related grant opportunities
  • Annual Environmental Job Development All-Grantee Meeting and webinar announcements
  • EPA and HMTRI activity announcements

Members also use the listserv as a networking tool and a resource where they can post a request for information to fellow grantees.

Environmental Workforce Development Professional Learning Community (PLC)—The objective of the PLC is to promote and share innovative strategies among Brownfields job training communities, and to provide technical assistance to new communities interested in developing job training programs. HMTRI facilitates 30-minute, bi-weekly conference calls to meet this objective. Each cycle, consisting of ten sessions, features presentations from current and past EWDJT programs. Post-session notes and audio recordings of each session are housed on the Brownfields Toolbox website.

MentorLink Program—The MentorLink program fosters mentor/grantee information exchange. Expert mentors are individuals who have demonstrated experience and expertise in specific activities of environmental workforce development programs such as student recruitment, assessment, or placement. Volunteer mentors are current and past grantees including some from outside the EWDJT program. Expert mentors can provide coaching and advice to those requesting individual assistance on various topics. HMTRI maintains a roster of individuals interested in participating in the MentorLink program.

Grantee Scans—Annual requests are sent to all EPA-funded EWDJT grantees to provide information about their programs that includes:

  • Organization name and contact information
  • Graduation dates
  • Certificates and certifications held by graduates
  • Core competencies

Responses are compiled into the Certified Employee Finder to assist employers in finding screened workers with EPA and OSHA certifications in health, safety, and environmental technology.

The Certified Employee Finder is distributed through the Brownfields Toolbox website, at the annual All-Grantee meetings, and at national and regional conferences.

Individualized Technical Assistance—Individualized technical assistance is available to existing, new, and prospective grantees to address specific workforce development issues. Technical assistance may be provided face-to-face at meetings and conferences, over the telephone, or through email.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Another federal agency with training programs closely related to EPA’s EWDJT program is the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Worker Training Program (WTP). NIEHS grants focus on worker health and safety including disaster relief. EPA EWDJT grants focus on environmental remediation. Both grants make worker health and safety their prime concern. Some EWDJT grantees are funded by both EPA and NIEHS, but must demonstrate in their applications that there is no overlap between the programs.

The NIEHS WTP grants train workers engaged in activities related to hazardous materials and waste generation, removal, containment, transportation, and emergency response. EPA EWDJT grants are funded for a period of three years. Most NIEHS grants are awarded for a period of five years. NIEHS WTP funding is provided through the following program areas:

  • The Hazardous Waste Worker Training Program provides model occupational safety and health training for workers who are or may be engaged in activities related to hazardous waste removal, containment, or chemical emergency response.
  • The NIEHS/DOE Nuclear Worker Training Program focuses on training workers engaged in environmental restoration, waste treatment, and emergency response activities at sites in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear weapons complex. Grants awarded under this program area are funded through an interagency agreement with DOE.
  • The Environmental Career Worker Training Program, known as the Minority Worker Training Program until 2014, focuses on delivering comprehensive training to increase the number of disadvantaged and underrepresented minority workers in areas such as environmental restoration, construction, hazardous materials/waste handling, and emergency response.
  • The HAZMAT Disaster Preparedness Training Program supports the development and delivery of disaster-specific training that prepares workers to respond to natural disasters and possible future terrorist incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.
  • The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) E-Learning for HAZMAT Program focuses on the development of e-learning products that support health and safety training of hazardous materials workers, emergency responders, and skilled support personnel; community and citizen preparation and resiliency; and research into the acute and long-term health effects of environmental disasters.

The WTP also funds the National Clearinghouse for Worker Safety and Health Training, a national resource for hazardous waste worker curricula, technical reports, and weekly news on hazardous materials, waste operations, and emergency response. The National Clearinghouse supports the efforts of WTP staff and awardees in providing health and safety training to workers engaged in activities related to hazardous materials and waste generation, removal, containment, transportation, and emergency response.

Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration

The third federal agency most closely impacting EWDJT is the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Within DOL, two types of services provide considerable leveraged resources to EPA grantees. The first type includes a variety of employment and training programs under the Employment and Training Administration (ETA).

Because of the size and scope of these programs, most are administered with large grants on the state or local level.

Also under the DOL, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) is charged with setting standards, developing curriculum, and training workers to protect themselves in the workplace. Many EWDJT courses provide certifications based on OSHA standards and training materials delivered by authorized trainers. OSHA 1910.120 Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) is a mandatory certification required by EWDJT grantees, but most grantees add a variety of other OSHA certification courses depending on local workforce needs. See the OSHA Training website for courses, materials, and resources.

grants.gov

Communities interested in developing an EWDJT program should not overlook the federal government’s portal for all types of technical assistance regarding the grant application process. Grants.gov is designed to be a one-stop repository for all information about federal grant opportunities and proposal submission. Topics that can be found at grants.gov include tutorials and information on the following topics.

  • Grants 101—All about applying for federal grants and cooperative agreements
  • How to apply for grants and cooperative agreements
  • Organizations eligible for various types of assistance
  • Government agencies with funds available for grants
  • Request for Proposals, proposal submission guidelines, and due dates
  • The registration process required before submitting a proposal
  • Applicant tools and tips
  • Government contacts for additional information
  • Applicant FAQs
  • Funding opportunities by category, agency, and eligibility
  • Application tracking
  • Grant language and acronyms

In addition to providing instruction, grants.gov is the place where EWDJT grant proposals must be submitted. Organizations considering the establishment of an EWDJT program and interested in federal assistance are urged to visit grants.gov early in the planning process.