Slaughter Votes for Bipartisan Bill to Revitalize Brownfield Sites, Strengthening Local Economies and Creating Jobs
WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter (NY-25) voted late yesterday for the Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment & Reauthorization Act (H.R. 3017), bipartisan legislation that reauthorizes the EPA's Brownfields Program for the first time since 2006. The bill includes several provisions Slaughter introduced as part of her bill, the Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development (BUILD) Act, to jumpstart development efforts and provide additional resources for sites in need of redevelopment. Slaughter introduced the BUILD Act to expand eligibility for local municipalities and non-profit organizations and streamline the process for gaining access to the money, tools and resources needed to move projects toward completion as well as help to create and sustain jobs. Key provisions were later rolled into the Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment & Reauthorization Act that passed the House with strong bipartisan support.
“I’m proud to vote for this bipartisan bill to finally reauthorize the Brownfield program, a remarkable initiative that has led to the remediation of more than 25,000 contaminated sites nationwide, including several in Rochester. This bill contains key provisions of a bill I’ve introduced to jumpstart the revitalization of these sites. While we respect the industrial heritage that helped build our nation, we have an obligation to clean up the urban blight and environmental pollution left behind. Clean and safe neighborhoods are essential for families across Monroe County and are key to attracting new businesses, residents, and tourism to our community,” said Slaughter.
While New York helped power the country through the industrial revolution, some businesses left behind contaminated land where their operations once stood. These abandoned sites – brownfields – must be cleaned up before new development can begin. There are between 450,000 and one million abandoned and contaminated sites in the United States, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Brownfield sites range in size from a half an acre to tens of acres that are located in both urban and rural areas. The redevelopment of these sites have proven to be beneficial to communities as they provide a boost to the economy through private investment and business development, job creation, community development and overall quality of life in the area.
EPA's Brownfields Program empowers states, communities, and other stakeholders to work together to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields. A brownfield site is 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. In 2002, the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was passed to help states and communities around the country clean up and revitalize brownfields sites. Under this law, EPA provides financial assistance to eligible applicants through competitive grant programs for brownfields site assessment, site cleanup, revolving loan funds, area-wide planning, and job training. Additional funding support is provided to state and tribal response programs through a separate mechanism.
According to the EPA, there are dozens of Brownfield sites in Monroe County. Congressional authorization for the Brownfield program lapsed at the end of 2006, leaving economic development opportunities to fall by the wayside.
The reauthorization bill that passed the House last night contains several key provisions of Slaughter’s BUILD Act, which was crafted to expand on previously existing Brownfield initiatives by expanding the reach of these efforts and increasing the amount of funds applicants can request. This includes language expanding grant eligibility to non-profit organizations, allowing multi-purpose grants to streamline the process of assessing and remediating a site, and allowing prioritization of funding for sites with the potential to generate renewable energy.