New England has been awarded $12 million from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Grants program to clean up contaminated areas.

Brownfields Grants give communities the resources needed to clean up and revitalize contaminated or hazardous sites. The EPA’s website defines brownfields as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.” The money may be given directly to cities, or to private organizations.

The EPA has awarded approximately $12 million to the six states in New England, and $62 million to the nation as a whole, according to the Hartford Business Journal. This gives the states in the region a higher proportion of grant money than any other. Maine received 10 Brownfields Grants, the highest in the nation, alongside Florida. The small size of New England also makes the allotment of $12 million more concentrated than anywhere else.

The $12 million has been distributed among various government and private organizations. Hartford, Conn., was awarded $400,000 to clean up two brownfields, and another $200,000 for petroleum cleanup, according to the EPA’s website.

Brattleboro, Vt., was awarded $400,000 to clean up and redevelop two properties for the New England Youth Theater, according to the Brattleboro Reformer.

Communities awarded Brownfields Grants range in size from a few hundred, like St. Marks, Fla., to New York City, NY., with a population of over 8 million.

“Brownfields sites are community assets and a key component of the Obama Administration’s efforts to provide tools to sustainably revitalize communities and foster economic development,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response in an EPA press release. “Through these grant resources local communities can continue to assess, cleanup and redevelop properties to meet local needs for jobs, housing and recreation while protecting people’s health and the local environment.”

The Brownfields grants are awarded annually, and are part of the EPA’s $9 billion budget, according to the EPA’s website.

There are an estimated 450,000 abandoned and contaminated sites in the United States, according to the EPA’s press release.  A 2011 pilot study indicates brownfields site redevelopment increases location efficiency, which means that residents live closer to where they work and play, reducing commute times and greenhouse gas emissions.

A full list of awardees, as well as instructions for application, can be found at www.epa.gov.