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State getting $25M to clean up old GM sites

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Indiana will benefit from a $25.2 million environmental trust established to clean up and redevelop eight former General Motors plants throughout the state, officials said Wednesday.

The fund is part of a $773 million deal the Obama administration struck to remediate dozens of such sites in 14 states. It is the largest trust of its kind in U.S. history.

The money will target automotive sites containing hazardous waste that were left shuttered by the auto giant's bankruptcy last year. About half of the 89 sites covered by the trust are in Michigan and others are in New York and Ohio. The Indiana sites targeted for clean-up include the GM metal-stamping plant in Indianapolis set to close next year. Other locations are in Kokomo, Muncie and Anderson.

"The old General Motors provided manufacturing jobs in Indiana for generations, and we can only hope that the emergence of the New GM from bankruptcy will mark a return to stability for one of the nation's great automakers," Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement. "In the meantime, cleaning up industrial pollution that would be an obstacle to redevelopment ... is an appropriate resolution to a complicated bankruptcy."

Representatives of Zoeller's office and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management collaborated with federal officials on the settlement deal.

The trust fund, which was proposed in May, was filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York and is expected to receive final approval next year. The deal involves the government, Motors Liquidation Co., which represents former GM assets that were not placed in the new auto company, 14 states and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe in New York.

"This trust — the largest environmental trust in our history — provides support for aggressive environmental cleanups at these sites, which will create jobs today and benefit the environment and human health over the long term," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.

General Motors received $50 billion in government aid to get through its bankruptcy. GM is 61 percent owned by U.S. taxpayers and planning an initial public offering that will allow the government to begin reducing its stake.

Vacant properties, facilities and offices left barren by GM's bankruptcy will be razed or rehabilitated under the plan. The funds will come from more than $1 billion provided by the Treasury Department to wind down the "bad" assets of General Motors set aside in the bankruptcy.

The plan includes $431 million for states to clean up former GM properties and $262 million for administrative costs — which can be used to market the sites for future redevelopment.

Michigan will receive the largest share, at $158.7 million, followed by New York ($153.8 million), Ohio ($39.4 million) and Indiana ($25.2 million). The other states participating in the settlement include: Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The funding will be overseen by Elliot Laws, a former EPA assistant administrator for solid waste and emergency response during the Clinton administration.
 

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