Pallone Leads Bipartisan Reauthorization of Brownfields Program through Energy and Commerce Committee

Jun 28, 2017 Issues: Environment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) helped lead bipartisan reauthorization of the Brownfields program through the Energy and Commerce Committee. The Brownfields program was created in 2002 by legislation authored by Pallone and the late Republican Ohio Rep. Paul Gillmor. The programs’ investments have leveraged more than $22 billion from a variety of public and private sources for cleanup and redevelopment activities. This has resulted in approximately 117,525 jobs nationwide.

“By almost any metric, the Brownfields program has been a remarkable success,” said Pallone.  “Removing public health hazards by cleaning up contaminated sites is incredibly important for the surrounding communities. It is also a job creator that primes the pump for local investment and development.”

At today’s markup Pallone thanked his committee colleagues including Chairman Walden, for working to improve and reauthorize the Brownfields program. The program has enjoyed bipartisan support over the last decade.

Earlier this year, Congressman Pallone introduced The Brownfields Authorization Increase Act, which includes increased funding levels and more flexibility in what organizations are eligible for the funds.   Last year, Congressman Pallone announced that Asbury Park was to receive two grants from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program, totaling $400,000. The community-wide hazardous substances grant funds will be used to conduct environmental site assessments, and prepare two cleanup plans. The funds will also be used to support community outreach activities.

Text from Congressman Pallone’s remarks in support of the bill can be found here.

I thank the Chairman for working with me and my staff on this bill to improve and reauthorize the Brownfields program.  The Brownfields program has always enjoyed bipartisan support, and I appreciate your effort to move forward in a bipartisan member to enact this reauthorization into law.

The Brownfields program has been an incredibly important tool for protecting public health and spurring economic growth in New Jersey and throughout the country.  With financial help from the federal government, communities can clean up contaminated sites and prep them for development for parks, commerce, housing, or a number of other uses that can benefit a local community.  Though these contaminated sites do not warrant listing on the National Priorities List like Superfund sites, they still have negative environmental and economic impacts. 

By almost any metric, the Brownfields program has been a remarkable success.  Removing public health hazards by cleaning up contaminated sites is incredibly important for the surrounding communities.  Since the program’s inception, more than 25,000 contaminated sites have been remediated, allowing communities to create new developments.  EPA has found that cleaning up underutilized or abandoned brownfields properties reduces health risks, decreases pollution and reduces storm water runoff. 

But this is not just a program that provides environmental benefits – it is a job creator that primes the pump for local investment and development.  All told, the Brownfields program has leveraged over $22 billion in investment surrounding these sites, which is a stunning return on the federal government’s modest investment in the program.  Simply put, it provides tremendous value to the federal government and a boost to the economy in local communities. 

However, as successful as the Brownfields program has been, there is still so much important cleanup work to be done.  At hearings last year and this year, this Subcommittee has heard unanimous testimony calling for the reauthorization of this program.  Stakeholders also indicated a need for increased funding and flexibility to allow states and local communities to use their resources effectively to address the new challenges presented by these cleanups. 

The legislation we will vote on shortly is a compromise bill.  Obviously, the funding levels in this bill are much lower than the levels in the bill I introduced.  But reauthorizing this program at current funding levels will send a strong signal to the appropriators to step up and fully fund this important program.  So I support this bill, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.