House Members Introduce their own Bill to Upgrade the Brownfield Program
The House has introduced its own version of a bill to upgrade the popular and effective EPA brownfields grant program
At the end of June the Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan bill to reauthorize and enhace the U.S. EPA Brownfields program, a small but popular program with big impact and high ROI that leverages nearly $18 of private capital for every $1 public monies spent. This month, after the Senate bill was referred to two seperate House subcommittees, Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) introduced the Brownfields Authorization Increase Act of 2016 (H.R. 5782). Like its counterpart from the Senate, the bill would amend the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or "Superfund") to enhance EPA’s Brownfields program and include it as a formal part of the federal budget.
“This legislation reauthorizes this important program and provides critical funding to local communities to transform former factories, abandoned lots, and other vacant facilities into community centers, parks, and new businesses,” Representative Pallone said in a statement.
According to Smart Growth America, the major difference between the two versions is funding levels. Both bills authorize EPA to establish a new multi-purpose grant program. The Senate bill would cap those grants at $950,000 each, while the House bill would use a $1.5 million cap. Both bills provide more funding for technical assistance grants to assist small communities, Indian tribes, rural areas, and disadvantaged areas, but where the Senate bill would provide $600,000 for that program, the House bill would provide $1.5 million. And both bills would increase funding for direct remediation grants, currently stuck at the original funding limit of $200,000. The Senate bill would increase remediation funding to $500,000 with a $650,000 cap, whereas the House would increase remediation funding to $750,000 with a $1.5 million cap.
Such increases are essential to catching up with inflation and meeting the needs of projects in 2016 and beyond.
Read our previous coverage of the Senate's brownfield bill:
Or watch lead sponsor of the BUILD Act and Republican Senator from Oklahoma, Jim Inhofe, a longtime supporter of the EPA Brownfields Grant Program, quip in 2013 that "it is very rare that I have the opportunity to speak positively about any program that comes out of the EPA, but..."