The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Program helps communities clean up abandoned land and put it back into productive use. Tomorrow Congress will begin considering whether the program will continue this work in 2014.
On Wednesday, July 31, the House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee will mark up the Interior and Environment and Related Agencies funding bill, which allocates funding for all EPA programs, including Brownfields. Last week, a House subcommittee passed a draft version of the bill. The draft bill would cut funding for the EPA by 34% overall—and zero out funding for the Brownfields Program.
Leaders in the Republican-led House insist that the drastic cuts only affect “lower-priority, or ‘nice-to-have’ programs.” The Brownfields Program is helping to rebuild local economies across the country, and that’s not work we consider “lower-priority” or “nice-to-have.” Brownfields redevelopment can turn vacant lots into new offices or homes, and is a strategy that can help neighborhoods grow stronger economically for decades to come. The Brownfields Program has consistently garnered bipartisan support, and the BUILD Act, which would reauthorize and increase funding for the EPA Brownfields Program, is currently supported by both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate.
In addition, the National Brownfields Coalition is working with allied organizations to sign a group letter supporting these programs. If your organization is interested in joining this call, contact us.