Inhofe, Markey lead Bipartisan Group of Senators in Introducing Brownfields Reauthorization

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today with Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Mike Crapo (R-Id.) introduced S. 822, The Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development (BUILD) Act.

 The Brownfields program, which is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and enjoys strong bipartisan support, provides grants and technical assistance to states, local governments, tribes and redevelopment agencies to support the assessment, cleanup and reuse of Brownfield sites. Among other things, the BUILD Act would provide funding for technical assistance grants to small communities and rural areas, expand the scope of eligible grant recipients to include non-profit community groups and authorize funding for multi-purpose grants to tackle more complex sites. 

The Brownfields program has been very successful in promoting economic development in our local communities and across the country by cleaning up contaminated sites,” Inhofe said. “Whether it’s Bricktown in Oklahoma City or the new ballpark in Tulsa, Brownfields has been very good to us in Oklahoma. I am proud to work with a friend across the aisle, Sen. Markey, in reauthorizing and improving this effective program by directing more resources to rural towns and communities and allowing for further coordination throughout government agencies. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this legislation. 

“Improving Brownfields utilization is a bipartisan legislative bright spot, and the BUILD Act is critical to cleaning up the decades of abuse our lands have experienced at the hands of corporate polluters,” said Markey. “Cleaning up Brownfield sites is a win-win for Massachusetts and the country, helping to create jobs and spur economic activity while revitalizing underutilized and polluted lands. I look forward to working with Sen. Inhofe and all of my colleagues to ensure that these Brownfield sites will no longer be part of the problem, but a part of our economic solution.” 

“The Brownfields program has long enjoyed strong, bipartisan support because it makes good sense,” said  Carper. “As we have seen clearly in Wilmington, Delaware, where the Brownfields program helped revitalize our riverfront, not only does the cleanup of Brownfield sites reduce risks to public health, but it also breathes new life into formerly degraded areas, while creating jobs and spurring economic growth. With more than 450,000 Brownfield sites across the country, we have our work cut out for us, and given President Trump’s devastating proposed cuts to toxic site cleanup programs, its reauthorization is now more important than ever. The BUILD Act will help ensure that communities across the country have the tools they need to clean up contaminated sites and make our environment healthier and more productive.” 

“A number of South Dakota communities have benefited from the Brownfields program, which provides federal funding for technical assistance grants to small communities and rural areas,” Rounds said. “Reauthorization of the program will allow state and local governments to clean up polluted areas so they are once again safe for use.” 

“As the former Mayor of Newark, I saw the potential of the EPA’s Brownfields program to help revitalize communities,” said Booker. “Expanding the eligibility and scope of the Brownfields program to support cleanup and development efforts in more communities across New Jersey and the country is a commonsense step forward. This bipartisan legislation is critical to restoring the estimated 450,000 Brownfield sites nationwide to productive uses.” 

"Reauthorization of the Brownfields program has broad support from Idaho cities and counties across Idaho," Crapo said. "There are numerous Brownfield-eligible sites in virtually every county of Idaho. This legislation would increase access to the Brownfields grant programs for rural communities to improve the quality of our land and water." 

A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.

 

Highlights of the BUILD Act:

  • Authorizes up to $7,500 in technical assistance grants to eligible entities in small communities, Indian tribes, rural areas and disadvantaged areas.
  • Expands the eligibility for Brownfields grants for nonprofit organizations to include certain nonprofit organizations, limited liability corporations, limited partnerships and community development entities.
  • Increases the funding limit for remediation grants to $500,000 for each site, with some exceptions for higher funding, and authorizes multi-purpose grants up to $950,000, which provide greater certainty for long-term project financing. 
  • Allows certain government entities that do not qualify as a bona fide prospective purchaser to be eligible to receive grants so long as the government entity did not cause or contribute to a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance at the property.
  • Allows eligible entities to use up to 8 percent of their Brownfields grant funding for administrative costs.
  • Directs EPA in providing grants to give consideration to Brownfield sites located adjacent to federally designated floodplains.
  • Requires EPA to establish a program to provide grants of up to $500,000 to eligible entities and to capitalize a revolving loan fund to locate clean energy projects at Brownfield sites.
  • Reauthorizes the Brownfield program at the same authorized funding level ($200 million per year) through fiscal year 2020.