The Environmental Protection Agency is investing $14.3 million in green jobs training in New York.
A large portion of this money comes from the Environmental Protection Agency for Brownfields job training, with $2 million coming from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The hope is to ensure a strong environmental benefit while providing more economic opportunities to underserved areas.
Lisa Garcia, regional administrator for EPA Region 2, said people can learn job skills while participating.
“The job training program allows a variety of certifications where they learn valuable and really high-level skill sets,” she said, “which include lead and asbestos abatement, hazardous-waste operations and emergency response, mold remediation, like I said, environmental sampling and analysis.”
This year’s funding was higher thanks to a five-year commitment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Garcia said she is hopeful the brownfield job training program will receive the same amount of money when it comes up for renewal.
Although Garcia said the program is one of the most successful, it’s not without its challenges. One such challenge is outreach and public awareness, since these aren’t commonly known career pathways. But, she said, she’s optimistic for the program’s future goals, which include putting her out of work.
“My passion is to advance environmental justice,” she said, “and so the goal is to get rid of my job because we have cleaned up all the blighted and dilapidated, contaminated sites.”
She said there’s equity in a healthy environment. But, Garcia knows this will take some time. Instead, she said, she hopes Congress will continue to invest in programs such as this one to ensure brownfields become a thing of the past.
Edwin is a reporter and producer in North Tonawanda, New York. He’s previously reported for the Niagara Gazette and the Ithaca Times. Edwin got an early start in radio interning for WBFO-88.7FM, NPR’s Buffalo affiliate. In 2018, he graduated from SUNY Buffalo State College with a B.A. in Journalism, and in 2022, graduated from Syracuse University with an M.S. in Communications.