Brownfields Bill Would Preserve 2002 Funding Levels

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By Sylvia Carignan

A bill that would preserve brownfields funding at 2002 levels was sent to a House subcommittee for review June 15 as the panel’s chairman hopes to see legislation passed before Congress’ August recess.

The unnumbered bill, which will be marked up by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Environment Subcommittee, would continue brownfield appropriations at $200 million per fiscal year, the same amount of funding the program received at its creation in 2002.

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) told Bloomberg BNA he wants more funding for the brownfields program and hopes a bill will move this summer.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the program, allocates grants to help clean up and redevelop underutilized or contaminated land. Companies such as Under Armour, Walmart, and FedEx are building new facilities atop former brownfields (see related story).

The bill proposes several changes to the brownfields program, including the following:

  •  setting aside $1.5 million in annual grants for recipients in rural areas, small communities, disadvantaged areas, and tribes;
  •  allowing petroleum spill sites to be eligible for brownfields grant funding if no viable, responsible party is able to pay for cleanup; and
  •  increasing the funding limit for remediation grants from $200,000 to $500,000, with the option for the EPA to waive the limit and award up to $750,000 based on contamination, size, or site ownership.

More Brownfields Legislation

Five brownfields bills, including the bill scheduled for markup June 15, have been introduced during the 115th Congress.

House bills, introduced by Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J) ( H.R.2479, H.R.1747) and Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) ( H.R.1758), and a Senate bill, introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) ( S.822), have proposed changes to the EPA’s brownfields program but haven't reached the markup stage.

Some of the changes are common to each of the bills, including widening grant application to characterization and assessment of sites and allowing a single grant to cover multiple sites in one area.

At a minimum, the bills continue funding for the federal brownfields program at $200 million annually and continue state funding at $50 million annually. Pallone’s bill would increase brownfields appropriations to $550 million annually by 2022.

For More Information

The bill is available at http://src.bna.com/pRJ.

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