Environmental due diligence is a critical component of any property transaction where potential environmental risks are a concern—minimize risks and protect yourself from...
The Senate June 27 passed legislation by unanimous consent to reauthorize the Environmental Protection Agency's brownfields program and increase grant resources for remediation.
The bill (S.1479) would allow the EPA to dole out individual grants totalling $950,000, while also expanding remediation authority for charitable organizations.
A uniquely bipartisan group of Senate lawmakers, including Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), rallied behind the bill in recent months, arguing the new language will help clean up blighted sites nationwide and boost the economy.
“This legislation will help ensure that these brownfield sites will no longer be part of the problem, but will be part of an economic solution,” Markey said in a joint press release June 28.
Brownfields refer to sites polluted by former industrial and commercial operations and subsequently abandoned. An estimated 450,000 sites exist nationwide.
The legislation, which amends the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), would reauthorize the EPA brownfields program until 2018.
That program lapsed in 2006, but lawmakers have continued to appropriate money to fund its activities.
The legislation would increase, from $200,000 to $500,000, the remediation grant amount the president is allowed to allocate to both profitable and nonprofit organizations. The EPA administrator would be able to waive that cap, raising the overall grant total to $650,000 for each site.
All grant decisions must factor in a set of considerations, such as preservation, fulfillment of community needs and reuse of existing infrastructure.
The legislation, known as the Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development (BUILD) Act, also would provide more opportunity for government entities to remediate and give states more resources to assist small and disenfranchised communities with cleanups.
On top of those new provisions, the bill would give the EPA the power to grant $500,000 for brownfield redevelopment tied to new clean energy projects.
Senate supporters have advanced the legislation both standalone and as part of the chamber's comprehensive energy package, which passed the Senate in April.
Inhofe pushed House counterparts to follow suit.
“Now we are one step closer to enacting this legislation into law and reforming the program to make several overdue improvements,” said Inhofe, the Environment and Public Works Committee chairman. “I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to swiftly move to pass the [legislation].”
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), another sponsor, echoed that call in the joint statement, but House staff reacted guardedly to the passage.
“The committee’s still reviewing the bill,” Dan Schneider, spokesman for the House Energy and Commerce majority staff, told Bloomberg BNA.
A spokesman for the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the other House panel with jurisdiction over the legislation, didn't respond to a Bloomberg BNA e-mail.
Donelle Harder, Inhofe's spokeswoman, said Senate staffers are reaching across the Capitol.
“Our staff has touched base with the committees and have asked that the legislation move forward either as a standalone or in the energy conference report,” she told Bloomberg BNA.
The Senate may vote as early as this week to endorse an energy conference. A staffer close to those negotiations said easy Senate passage makes the legislation more likely to be included in a final conference resolution.
Both chambers of Congress passed the brownfields bill in their energy package.
“But it is too early to speculate on its ultimate fate in an energy bill conference,” Nicole Daigle, spokeswoman for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told Bloomberg BNA.
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)