For small towns, cleaning up a contaminated brownfield can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Rehabilitating former industrial sites, abandoned gas stations or other polluted land can be complicated and expensive – but transforming this land can have enormous benefits to both the environment and the economy. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Brownfields Program helps communities of all sizes achieve these goals.
As Congress debated the federal budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, Smart Growth America’s National Brownfields Coalition ramped up a national campaign to support the EPA Brownfields Program in the FY 2012 appropriations process. Faced with $40 million in proposed cuts from the House of Representatives, the Coalition reached deep into its membership to generate support for this important federal program. The Coalition asked mayors and economic development directors across the country to contact their Members of Congress and successfully reached nearly three-quarters of the members of the Interior and Environment Appropriations subcommittees.
The result of these efforts was that $35 million of those proposed cuts were restored. Among the many efforts involved in achieving this goal, dozens of towns, elected officials, non-profits, companies and other organizations sent letters to their members of Congress supporting the EPA Brownfields Program in FY 2012 appropriations:
- 35 national state and local organizations signed a letter from the National Brownfields Coalition (PDF)
- 25 California communities and organizations sent a letter to their Representatives (PDF)
- Tennessee communities sent their representatives a sampling of brownfields success stories in Tennessee (PDF)
- 13 Senators wrote a “Dear Colleague” letter asking members of the House Appropriations Committee to support the EPA Brownfields Program (PDF)
- Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber asked the Oregon congressional delegation to support full funding for the program (PDF)
- The 15 communities and organizations part of the Wisconsin Brownfields Study Group (PDF)
In his letter to the Oregon congressional delegation in December 2011, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber encouraged Congress to “focus on those national investments likely to make the greatest difference in bringing new jobs to our nation’s economically distressed communities, at the same time enhancing the environmental landscape and protecting the health our citizens. Full funding of EPA’s brownfields program is one of the best ways to accomplish those objectives.”
The National Brownfields Coalition continues to support the key federal programs and tax incentives that facilitate re-investment in blighted contaminated properties. Those programs include the EPA Brownfields Program as well as others. Click here to learn more about federal brownfields advocacy issues.
Interested in staying up to date on the National Brownfields Coalition’s work? Click here to join the Brownfields mailing list.
Photo courtesy of Campbell Environmental Group.