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House approves EPA’s brownfields reauthorization program
Kirill Abbakumov   on Monday, July 10, 2017 at 9:00:00 am

On June 15, 2017, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on the Environment approved the reauthorization of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Brownfields Enhancement Redevelopment and Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 3017) which would reauthorize EPA’s brownfields program and extend liability protections for local governments that did not cause or contribute to the contamination.

EPA’s brownfields program provides technical assistance and grants for communities to undertake brownfields projects. The program was originally authorized in 2002 through the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act. While the program’s authorization expired in 2006, Congress has continued to fund the program on an annual basis.

Brownfields are abandoned or underutilized properties whose redevelopment is hindered by real or perceived environmental contamination.  There are an estimated 400-600,000 sites like these throughout the United States, and redeveloping these locations has been a priority for the Conference of Mayors since the 1990s.

Redeveloping brownfields cleans up properties, creates jobs, and recycles land back into productive use while preserving farms and greenfields. According to EPA, since the inception of the program, over 26,000 brownfield sites have been assessed and over 5,700 properties and 66,000 acres have been made ready for reuse. The program has leveraged over 123,000 jobs and over $23.6 billion dollars. It is estimated that every dollar spent leverages approximately $16 in other investments.