Senator Charles Schumer has called on Congress to extend the EPA’s Brownfields Tax Credit. Image via Flickr user ProPublica.
Just last week, the New York Times chronicled the difficulties of creating new development on former gas station sites. Now, New York Senator Charles Schumer is asking Congress to support property owners, municipalities and developers who want to clean up these difficult pieces of land and get them back into productive use.
“Scores of gas stations sit vacant and abandoned across upstate New York, acting as detriments to downtown development and potentially serious hazards to human environmental health,” Schumer was quoted by the Buffalo News. “Gas stations can look like small fixer-uppers above ground, but may have lots of problems beneath.”
Schumer asked Congress to extend now-expired brownfields tax credits from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. By allowing brownfield developers or property owners to deduct some of the cleanup costs from their taxes, the credits encourage redevelopment of these complicated sites. “The brownfields tax incentive provides the boost that local developers need to make the cleanup worth every penny,” Schumer said.
Former gas station sites nearly always have underground storage tanks, which over time are at risk of leaking and contaminating nearby land and water. There are at least 587,000 underground storage tanks across the country according to the EPA, with many others that have not been registered.
These sites have immense economic potential, and redeveloping them is the only way to tap it. Whether small and centrally located or part of a larger industrial area, redeveloping brownfields sites can help entire neighborhoods become more vibrant.
Schumer said the brownfields credit had a “real positive effect” in the past, but it expired among congressional gridlock. The Senate plans to pass a bipartisan extension of certain tax incentives and other provisions in the coming months, and Senator Schumer “will push hard” to ensure the brownfields incentives are included.
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