EPA Brownfields funds helped transform the site of a former auto body repair shop into a neighborhood market in an underserved community in Greenville, SC. Photo via.
With sweeping bipartisan support, last week the U.S. Senate unanimously passed legislation to help communities across the country clean up and redevelop contaminated land. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), one of the champions of the bill, urged his Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives to do the same.
“In my home state of Oklahoma, we have seen firsthand the benefits of the Brownfields program to revive abandoned, contaminated buildings and turn these proprieties into economic contributors to the community as well as job creators for the state,” Senator Inhofe said in a statement. “With the bipartisan BUILD Act, we sought to expand the benefits of the Brownfields program to also support small and rural communities as well as Indian tribes. I urge my colleagues in the House of Representatives to swiftly move to pass the BUILD Act and add another accomplishment of a Republican-led Congress working to improve our environment while expanding economic opportunity for all.”
The Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development Act of 2015 or BUILD Act (S. 1479) reauthorizes and makes several improvements to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields program. The program helps communities clean up and redevelop contaminated land—known as “brownfields”—and put these sites back into productive use.
“The BUILD Act is critical to cleaning up the generations of abuse our lands have experienced at the hands of corporate polluters,” said Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), another champion of the bill. “Cleaning up brownfield sites is a win-win for Massachusetts and the country, helping to create jobs and spur economic activity while revitalizing underutilized and polluted lands.”
In addition to making the EPA Brownfields program an official part of the federal budget, the bill would also make several improvements including prioritizing technical assistance grants for brownfields projects in small communities, Indian tribes, rural areas, and disadvantaged areas; expanding eligibility for EPA Brownfields grants to certain nonprofit and community development entities; and expanding funding eligibility for governmental entities that did not cause or contribute to the contamination.
Brownfields redevelopment is a remarkably popular and bipartisan issue, and reauthorizing the EPA program would make a great addition to the list of accomplishments for any Congress. However, with November’s election looming on the horizon the House of Representatives has only a few short months left to pass a bill. Tell your member of Congress you want to see the Brownfields program reauthorized before November: