Brownfields financing legislation introduced in the House

Earlier this month, Congresswoman Janice Hahn (D-CA) and Congressman Chris Gibson (R-NY) introduced the Brownfield Redevelopment and Economic Development Innovative Financing Act of 2014, or H.R. 4173. The legislation would re-establish a guaranteed financing program for brownfields at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and allow localities to utilize innovative financing mechanisms to begin the redevelopment process. With support from the federal government, communities are able to redevelop blighted, contaminated and abandoned sites that inhibit economic development and pose risks to public health.

“In Carson, The Boulevards project, once a landfill, will now feature two hotels, retail space, affordable housing, office buildings, restaurants and a movie theater-reviving the local economy and creating a new safe space for the community,” Congresswoman Hahn said in a statement. “While these sites need upfront investment, they represent incredible opportunities for local revitalization and job creation.”

“This bipartisan concept would allow critical development projects to move forward in a way that creates jobs and revitalizes communities,” Congressman Gibson added.

The loans, which would range from $25,000 to $150,000, could cover initial costs of brownfields redevelopment such as acquisition, remediation, relocation of facilities, and site preparation which includes installing utilities, sewers, storm drains, and transportation facilities.

This legislation complements the earlier work of four Senators who introduced the Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development (BUILD) Act of 2013. The BUILD Act would authorize the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Program through 2016, allow multipurpose grants, and increase grant limits for the program. In many redevelopment projects, support from EPA’s program is the first assistance communities receive to turn blighted and contaminated sites into assets for the community. Both pieces of legislation would make it easier for communities to get redevelopment projects off the ground.

The support for brownfields redevelopment throughout Congress indicates a clear need for improvements and reform to the regulatory policies that impact brownfields issues across the country and at every level of government.