DeFazio Applauds House Passage of Legislation to Spur Economic Development and Job Creation in Oregon Communities
Today, the United States House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation to renew a critical program that spurs economic growth and job creation in Oregon communities. Ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR), an original cosponsor of companion legislation, applauded House passage of H.R. 3017, the Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017, which will boost funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) brownfields program. The brownfields program provides funding to States and communities for the cleanup and redevelopment of abandoned or underutilized properties and leverages Federal seed money with State, local, and private dollars to create jobs.
“Congress has heard from mayors, state agencies, and other stakeholders on the critical importance of the brownfields program. The brownfields program has a proven record of success and you can see this success right here at home. In 2013, the City of Eugene received $680,000 in grants to clean up abandoned properties and today, the Ninkasi Brewing Company sits on the site of what was a former Eugene brownfield. This year, Eugene was selected for an additional $500,000 brownfields site assessment grant and I am hopeful that this funding can replicate the success of Ninkasi and prompt the redevelopment and cleanup of other brownfield sites,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the Ranking Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and an original cosponsor of companion legislation. “I was proud to work on this bipartisan legislation and I will continue to work with my colleagues to see this critical bill signed into law.” See video of DeFazio speaking about the Eugene brownfields here.
H.R. 3017 makes several improvements to the brownfields program including increasing the funding limit for individual cleanup grants from $200,000 to $500,000 per grant, authorizing EPA to award multipurpose brownfield grants for projects consisting of multiple elements, and making non-profit entities eligible for remediation and assessment grants under the program. It will also allow local governments to apply for site assessment grants for properties acquired prior to the creation of the brownfields program.
Brownfields are defined 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.” Brownfields are, by definition, not contaminated to a level that would define them as potential Superfund sites. However, because of the presence or potential presence of hazardous substances on these sites, potentially responsible parties associated with brownfields sites may be liable for cleanup of the properties.
In an effort to promote the cleanup of brownfields, Congress created EPA’s brownfields program through the 2002 enactment of the Brownfields Revitalization and Environmental Restoration Act. The Brownfields Act contained two distinct pieces: (1) the creation of Federally-funded grant programs, managed by EPA, for the assessment and cleanup of brownfields properties, as well as for establishing and maintaining State-run brownfields programs; and (2) several amendments to the Superfund law that allowed certain (statutorily-defined) parties to redevelop brownfields sites without the fear of potential cleanup liability.