Pallone Helps Pass Bipartisan Brownfields Bill through House

Nov 30, 2017

Washington, DC – Today Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), led floor debate for House Democrats and helped pass the bipartisan Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017 through the House Representatives. As the Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Pallone worked closely with his colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to advance the reauthorization legislation out of the committee earlier this year.

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.  

The reauthorization legislation will extend the federal Brownfields fund through 2022 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, H.R. 3017 would require the EPA to consider the potential for renewable energy production when ranking applications for brownfield grants, to incentivize green energy projects.

“The Brownfields program has been an incredibly important tool for protecting public health and spurring economic growth in New Jersey and throughout the country,” Pallone said on the House Floor today. “The Brownfields program is proof that having a strong economy and protecting the environment is not an “either-or” issue.  We can have both.”

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.

The video of his closing remarks on the floor can be found here and the text can be found below.

I’d like to close by talking about how important this program has been to our nation and my home state since its creation back in 2002. New Jersey has too many of these types of contaminated sites, and we need federal help to clean them up and redevelop them.

For example, a former DuPont property on the waterfront in Carteret is being redeveloped to be a ferry terminal to carry commuters to New York City.  That site is a great example of how a redeveloped Brownfield site can be beneficial for the community.

Asbury Park, another town in my district, received two substantial federal Brownfields grants last year.  One of those grants is being used to assess eight contaminated sites and prepare two cleanup plans.  The other grant is going to assessing and redeveloping sites around the train station and the downtown area that were contaminated with petroleum.

Just this week, I visited another brownfield site being redeveloped in my district, the Woodbridge Waterfront Park. When completed, the Waterfront Park will include approximately 30 acres of restored wetlands, walking trails, a boardwalk overlooking the wetlands, and a viewing platform at the Raritan River. 

Federal funds through the Brownfields program helped make these projects happen.

The Brownfields program is proof that having a strong economy and protecting the environment is not an “either-or” issue.  We can have both.