[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 196 (Friday, December 1, 2017)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
From the Congressional Record Online through GPO
BROWNFIELDS ENHANCEMENT, ECONOMIC REDEVELOPMENT, AND REAUTHORIZATION
ACT OF 2017
HON. PETER A. DeFAZIO
in the house of representatives
Thursday, November 30, 2017
Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, I include in the Record the following
The United States Conference of Mayors, National
Association of Counties, National League of Cities, and
National Association of Regional Councils,
March 28, 2017.
Hon. Greg Walden,
Chairman, Energy and Commerce Committee,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Hon. Frank J, Pallone, Jr.,
Ranking Member, Energy and Commerce Committee, House of
Representatives, Washington, DC.
Hon. Bill Shuster,
Chairman, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, House
of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Hon. Peter DeFazio,
Ranking Member, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
Dear Chairman Walden, Ranking Member Pallone, Chairman
Shuster and Ranking Member DeFazio: On behalf of the nation's
mayors, cities, counties and regions, we strongly encourage
you to reauthorize and improve the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields program, which is key for
both economic development and job creation In local
communities across the county.
Since its creation, the EPA Brownfields program has
provided crucial assistance to local governments for
reclaiming hazardous, polluted and underutilized properties.
To date, there have been over 26,000 brownfields assessments
and 1,200 brownfields cleanups nationally, which has led to
over 123,000 jobs. Each of the $22 billion federal dollars
that has been invested since the program was established in
2002 has leveraged approximately $16 in other investments,
close to $400 billion in total.
While many communities have benefited from brownfields
redevelopment efforts under this program, the U.S. Government
Accountability Office estimates there are between 400,000 and
600,000 remaining brownfields sites throughout the United
States. To build upon these past successes and assist in the
cleanup, reuse and redevelopment of remaining sites, some key
Improvements to the program are needed.
Increase or maintain authorization amounts
While we understand the fiscal challenges and constraints
faced by the U.S. Congress, we strongly encourage you to
authorize and fully fund the Brownfields program to at least
previously authorized levels. The Brownfields program has a
proven track record of leveraging additional investments,
creating new jobs, and redeveloping new properties, while
creating additional tax revenues.
At current appropriation levels, EPA has had to turn away
many highly qualified applicants due to a lack of funding.
EPA estimates that for the past 5 years, over 1,700 requests
for viable projects were not awarded money because of limited
funding. EPA estimates that if they were able to provide
funding to those turned away applicants, an additional 50,000
jobs would have been created along with $12 billion of
Additionally, President Trump has made reinvesting in
America and putting people back to work as key priorities for
his administration. In order to make this happen and to do so
quickly, Congress should utilize existing programs, and we
believe that the Brownfields program would be a strong
candidate for any type of reinvestment initiative. That is
why we urge Congress to increase or at least maintain the
current authorization levels for EPA's brownfields program.
increase overall grant funding to allow communities to cleanup more
Although many brownfield sites have been redeveloped, what
remains are brownfield sites that are more difficult to
redevelop due to their level of contamination or marketplace
conditions. Communities would like the EPA program to be
expanded to address the clean up challenges at these more
We suggest the following:
Increase Cleanup Grant Amounts--Congress should recognize
the complexity of the cleanup process for larger or more
complicated sites by increasing the funding limit for cleanup
of a single site to $1 million. Under special circumstances,
EPA could waive the limit, up to $2 million per site.
Establish Multi-Purpose Brownfields Grants--Congress should
allow local governments to have the option to apply for
multi-purpose grants that can be used for the full range of
brownfields-funded activities (assessment, cleanup, reuse
planning, etc.) on a community-wide basis. Applicants should
be required to demonstrate a plan and the capacity for using
this multi-purpose funding within a set timeline in order to
qualify for such funding.
Allow Funding for Reasonable Administrative Costs for Local
Brownfields Programs--Congress should allow brownfields grant
recipients to use a small portion (10 percent) of their grant
to cover reasonable administrative costs such as rent,
utilities and other costs necessary to carry out a
brownflelds liability concerns are a disincentive for local governments
Local governments face enormous challenges in brownfields
redevelopment. One of the most significant challenges is the
potential liability for local governments, which creates a
disincentive to acquire contaminated property. We encourage
Congress to revise the Comprehensive Environmental Response,
Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERLA) to encourage
and protect local communities who choose to take ownership of
blighted properties for the purpose of brownfields
redevelopment where the local government had no role in
creating the contamination. These changes should include:
Clarify Eligibility of Publicly-Owned Sites Acquired Before
2002--Congress should allow local governments to be eligible
for grant funding for properties that were acquired prior to
the January 11, 2002 enactment of the Brownfields
Revitalization Act--when there was no required standard for
“all appropriate inquiries”--provided that the applicant
did not cause or contribute to the contamination and
performed “appropriate care.” For these sites, applicants
would not have to demonstrate that they performed all
Remove Barriers to Local and State Governments in
Addressing Mothballed Sites--Congress should exempt local and
state governments from CERCLA liability if the government
unit (a) owns a brownfields property as defined by section
101(39); (b) did not cause or contribute to contamination on
the property; and (c) exercises due care with regard to any
known contamination at the site. We suggest language to amend
section 101(20)(D) that clarifies that properties acquired
through eminent domain qualify for the CERCLA exemption for
local governments involved in “Involuntary Acquisitions.”
Alternatively, we would suggest language that establishes a
simplified and clear exemption from CERCLA liability for
local governments that acquire brownfields sites.
Eliminate Eligibility Barriers for Petroleum Brownfields
Sites--Grantees that seek to use assessment, cleanup or
multi-purpose grants on sites with petroleum contamination
should not be required to make the difficult demonstrations
that the site is “low risk” and that there is “no viable
responsible party” connected with the site. We recommend
replacing the “No Viable Responsible Party” language in
section 101(39)(D) with a prohibition on using funds to pay
for cleanup costs at a brownfields site for which the
recipient of the grant is potentially liable under the
petroleum statutes. This would parallel the language for non-
petroleum brownfields sites.
If you have any questions, please contact Judy Sheahan at
USCM, Carolyn Berndt at NLC, Julie Ufner at NACo, or Leslie
Wollack at NARC. Thank you for your consideration.
CEO and Executive Director, The U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Matthew D. Chase,
Executive Director, National Association of Counties.
Clarence E. Anthony,
CEO and Executive Director, National League of Cities.
Executive Director, National Association of Regional