This post was contributed by REGENESIS CEO Scott Wilson.
In a rare showing of bipartisanship, both democratic and republican legislators show strong support for the USEPA Brownfields Program.
I have received word yesterday from a hearing of the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that praise was heaped on the USEPA for the success of its Brownfields Program. Standout remarks came from Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) who supported the USEPA’s use of funding to clean up brownfields stating, “Once brownfields are rehabilitated, they often spark neighborhood revitalization, boost property values and make communities more attractive places to live, work and do business.” He went on to say, “These cleanups have created more than 72,000 jobs and attracted more than $17 billion in private investment.” Positive sentiments were also echoed by the republican side of the aisle as ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee James Inhofe (R-Okla) stated, “[the Brownfields Program] is one program that has worked very well.”
If you are not familiar with the Brownfields Program, it was started by the USEPA more than a decade ago to aid in funding the restoration of contaminated properties, which are generally former industrial sites. Usually in urban areas these properties, once restored, are put back into good use attracting new businesses and civic facilities. This, in turn, results in the generation of jobs and tax revenue.
In a describing the success of the Program, David Lloyd, Director of EPA’s Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization indicated that the Program has treated over 24,500 brownfield acres stimulating some $17.5 billion in economic development.
While most testimony was very positive in support of continued funding for the program, suggestions were made for improvements including a call for funding sites outside of urban areas (Aaron Scheff, Brownfields Project Manager at the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality) and for raising the $200K initial funding limit and speeding up the application period (Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett).
In one of the most bitter partisan environments on Capitol Hill in decades, legislators from both sides of the aisle spoke very favorably of what the USEPA’s Brownfield Program has accomplished and indicated strong support of the funding the Program in future. – Good news for those of us involved in environmental assessment and remediation!