Pallone’s Bipartisan Brownfields Bill Passes in Omnibus
Washington, DC – Today, as part of the omnibus spending package, the House of Representatives passed legislation to reauthorize the Brownfields program authored by Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06). Pallone led efforts to negotiate and pass the reauthorization legislation out of the Energy and Commerce Committee earlier this year, and to include the legislation in the omnibus spending bill.
The Brownfields reauthorization legislation will extend federal Brownfields funding through 2023 and make important reforms to the program. The bill improves the flexibility of the program, authorizing multi-purpose grants, raising the limits for grants per site, and removing some funding caps in current law. It also allows EPA to reserve as much as $1.5 million in brownfields funding each year to assist small communities, tribes, and rural or disadvantaged areas. Grants could be used for training, research, and technical assistance. Additionally, it would require the EPA to consider the potential for renewable energy production when ranking applications for brownfield grants, to incentivize green energy projects.
It will also provide special recognition for waterfront Brownfields sites. In November at the Woodbridge waterfront, Pallone called on Congress to pass brownfields reauthorization that support projects like the waterfront park. When completed the park will include approximately 30 acres of nature area with restored wetlands/uplands, more than 7,000 feet of walking trails circling the restored wetlands, 800 feet of boardwalk overlooking natural wetland areas, a viewing platform at the Raritan River, bird blinds for observing wildlife, educational signs, gathering spaces with seating, and bus parking.
“The Brownfields program has been an incredibly important tool for protecting public health and spurring economic growth in New Jersey and throughout the country,” said Pallone. “The Brownfields program is proof that having a strong economy and protecting the environment is not an ‘either-or’ issue. We can have both.”
The Brownfields program was created in 2002 by bipartisan legislation authored in the House by Pallone and the late Rep. Paul Gillmor of Ohio to assist communities with the cleanup of former industrial properties where redevelopment is complicated by the presence of environmental contamination. When the program was first authorized, there were an estimated 450,000 brownfields properties in the U.S. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 59,000 brownfields sites have already been revitalized.
Since 2002, New Jersey has received over $34 million in Brownfields grants. The vast majority of these funds, approximately $29 million, were awarded for assessment and cleanup efforts. In his closing remarks, Congressman Pallone emphasized several projects in New Jersey that have benefited from the Brownfields program.