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Blog   |   Jul 31st, 2017 EPA Brownfields reauthorization bill promises to strengthen and accelerate redevelopment of contaminated sites

Brownfields

Next month the U.S. Congress will take up legislation to reauthorize what has proven by all measures to be one of the most successful environmental and economic development programs in our nation’s history, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Program.

To date, this program has led to the assessment of more than 26,000 polluted and contaminated brownfield sites, with more than 5,700 of them, totaling more than 66,000 acres, made ready for reuse. The EPA estimates the program has created more than 123,000 jobs and attracted over $23.6 billion in investment—a $16-for-$1 return on tax dollars spent.

H.R. 3017, the “Brownfields Enhancement Economic Redevelopment and Reauthorization Act of 2017,” will, if enacted, extend and strengthen the program in many important ways:

  • In contrast to prior years, the current version of the reauthorization bill ensures no reduction in overall funding levels.
  • Funds would be earmarked for remediation in rural communities that face particular challenges remediating brownfields because opportunities for commercial or residential redevelopment that can defray cleanup costs are smaller than in densely populated urban areas.
  • Available remediation funding is being increased from $200,000 per site to $500,000 per site.
  • A new category of “multipurpose grants” of up to $950,000 is being created. These could be especially helpful in situations where the scope of contamination–and therefore the level of assessment required–is unclear at the outset of a cleanup program, or where multiple types of contamination (covered by multiple cleanup budget line items) are present simultaneously.
  • Also being created is a new category of grants for “Clean Energy on Brownfields,” which can support the transformation of former landfill and surface-mine sites and others into renewable energy production (which TRC’s blog has covered here, here, and here). While landfills remain one of the most common and promising sources of real estate for solar, this new source of funding could greatly expand the base of sites suitable for clean-energy development, including for wind turbines.

EPA Brownfields funds are critical to promoting the redevelopment of impaired sites, increasing communities’ tax base and jobs base, promoting utilization of existing infrastructure, and removing contaminants to protect human health and the environment. Here at TRC, through our team’s work on more than 100 projects, we have seen firsthand how a single site that wins just a few thousand EPA Assessment Brownfields dollars can be transformed into a legacy community icon, and how reviving a portfolio of sites can infuse millions of leveraged dollars and lead the rebirth of a downtown. The 2017 EPA Brownfields Reauthorization Act promises to accelerate this tremendous progress all across our country.


Related Services

Brownfields & Redevelopment

Blog Author

Kelley Race, PG, LSP

Kelley Race, PG, LSP

Kelley Race is a Brownfields Program Manager at TRC, coordinating assessment, cleanup, and remediation activities across the United States, with a particular focus on the Northeast, Pennsylvania, and California, among others. She strategizes with communities, regional planning commissions, nonprofits, and developers on brownfields redevelopment including repurposing and adaptive reuse. Over her 25 year career, Ms. Race has managed over 200 Brownfields projects including those funded with USEPA Brownfields Assessment, Cleanup, and Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) monies. Ms. Race manages redevelopment options/strategies, activities for additional assessment, coordination with EPA and state regulators, and public/community outreach activities. She focuses Brownfields activities to incorporate sustainable and green initiatives during the assessment, remedial, and reuse process. She has assisted numerous communities in developing funding strategies for Brownfields sites where EPA assessment dollars were leveraged to obtain EPA cleanup monies and EPA RLF subgrants and loans to support small redevelopment projects to multimillion dollar projects. Contact Kelley at krace@trcsolutions.com.

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