House Members Meet in Conference on Capitol Hill re New Brownfield Bill H.R.3017
The Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R.3017) could reset funding levels and grant award guidelines.
Update 11/30/17: H.R. 3017 has passed the House 409 up votes to only 8 down, heads to the Senate.
Yesterday, November 29, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.Res. 631, which provided for consideration of the bill (H.R. 3017) to amend the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 to reauthorize and improve the brownfields program, and for other purposes. This bill is better known as “The Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017” (Brownfields EERRA (as in "era")).
Today, Thursday November 30, the House met at 10:00 a.m. for a morning hour and then at 12:00 PM (EDT) for legislative business re H.R. 3017, which was sponsored by Representative David McKinley (WV 1st District)/ Energy and Commerce Committee).
The House is planning to vote on the Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 3017), which could set funding levels at $200 million for the brownfield program as well as an additional $50 million set aside for state response program funding each year. The bill would also modify the law to increase the amounts awardable to successful grant applicants (up to $750,000). It would also create multi-purpose grants of up to $1 million, giving greater resource and enhanced flexibility to tackle some of the bigger, badder brownfields burdening the land. Importantly, should it become law, the bill would strengthen liability protection for local governments as well as afford greater liability protection for lessees on brownfield sites.
Perhaps the biggest potential game changer in the bill is an expansion of eligibility. H.R. 3017 would expand EPA brownfield program eligibility to §501(c)(3) nonprofits & §45D(c)(1) community development entities, which will undoubtedly open up new possibilities for land banks and community development corporations. To compete and win the highly competitive brownfield grant competition, which in recent years has been stiff enough to not issue awards to applicants with perfect scores, these new public sector entities will need the support and buy in of other local stakeholders and governments. So, this new approach will provide another major public incentive for local and regional cooperation by encouraging greater public private partnership—giving "P3" possibilities a big and potentially timely boost.
Storied success. Bipartisan support, usually with unanimous consent.
The brownfield program has a long history of success and bipartisan support. In large part because the program is so revenue positive. It generates a tremendous amount of activity in the market by rescuing real estate stuck in “brownfield limbo.” The brownfield program often funds linchpin projects that pull the brownfield string tying up an area’s development and holding back its potential. With a leverage ratio of nearly $18:1, which can unlock huge sums of capital to find its way into a brownfield project, the enormously catalytic program mostly flows public money through to locally controlled projects. Brownfield redevelopment can also raise the value of properties up to a mile away, sometimes more.
But far beyond the financial benefits, the environmental and health gains are worthwhile by themselves. Though focused on repairing the built-environment and restoring nature, brownfield redevelopment also has a direct impact on the social and civic function in a community. The results achieved by the EPA brownfield program are a match for any strictly civic or social program.
December is a Massive Month for Congress
There are precious few legislative days before the new year and Congress’ to-do list is larger and heavier than ever. Republicans are working in overdrive to pass a tax bill by the end of the year, which currently sits on the Senate after passing the House. The Senate aims to vote on tax reform this week, having already collected enough votes for debate to continue, but still the challenge is great given the slim majority Senate. Should tax reform pass the Senate, in some materially different form (which seems inevitable), the two chambers will convene next week to negotiate a final package.
Beyond the tax bill, Congress is working on an additional budget measure needed to keep the government running beyond the end of the year. President Trump has already mentioned the dreaded “government shutdown,” which seems farfetched but is nevertheless something to focus on in Washington… not to mention other major pressing concerns i.e. the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Congress’ attention to the brownfield bill is bucking for attention with some pretty stiff competition. If you support the brownfield program, we recommend contacting your Congressional representative and giving your support right now. The vote on the brownfield bill may come quickly and your representatives should know where you stand.
The Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017 (Brownfields EERRA) could be the next major step forward in the modern brownfield era, which is sweeping over the land in a restorative wave of real estate redevelopment, economic revitalization and environmental repair. But there isn’t much time left to vote for brownfields this year!
Check out our previous coverage of brownfield legislation, including last year's near miss legislation:
Brownfields 2017 attendees can bring properties and post projects to the Economic Redevelopment Forum (ERF) Marketplace and receive technical support, get expert guidance and/or gain tremendous exposure. The ERF Marketplace Map will feature properties and projects with exclusive placement on the conference website, on the national redevelopment marketplace, here on Brownfield Listings, and across the internet in a combined campaign to draw attention and/or action to each redevelopment opportunity that participates.
For these reasons, there will be no better place to post your RFP, RFQ or RFI this fall than in the ERF Marketplace at Brownfields 2017. Whether it’s the first step on your journey to redevelopment or the last—and you’re looking for a buyer or developer—you will find multiple pathways to make real progress in Pittsburgh.
PAST SUCCESS IN ERF MARKETPLACE
Howardville, Missouri was an EPA brownfield grant winner, but failed to find a vendor to perform the work at its historic high school for years after three RFP attempts all went unanswered.
A fourth RFP was published in the ERF Marketplace ahead of the conference and featured on BrownfieldListings.com. Howardville’s participation and online presence drew attention to its RFP from not one, but half a dozen environmental consulting firms with the experience to take on the challenges at the community's largest structure. The ERF Marketplace gave Howardville its pick of consultants and it signed on its first choice less than a month after attending Brownfields 2015.