REP. KATKO INTRODUCES BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO PRESERVE EPA BROWNFIELDS PROGRAM

March 30, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. John Katko (NY-24) today announced that he has introduced bipartisan legislation with U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (CT -5) to help communities in Central New York and nationwide revitalize neighborhoods and spur economic development through Brownfields reassessment and remediation.  

The Brownfields Reauthorization Act of 2017 would reauthorize the Brownfields program at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).   In the 24th Congressional District, Auburn, Wolcott, Fulton, Oswego, and Syracuse have benefited from this program.  

“With Onondaga Lake in our backyard, Central New Yorkers know all too well the impact of industrial pollution.  The Brownfields program has been a critical aid to the redevelopment and reuse of blighted properties not only in Syracuse, but also in Auburn, Fulton, Oswego, and Wolcott, among other sites throughout the region,” said U.S. Rep. John Katko.  “Redevelopment of Brownfields sites helps to revitalize neighborhoods, spur economic development, and create jobs.  This legislation preserves and enhances the EPA Brownfields Program and I’m proud to work with Rep. Esty to move this measure forward in a bipartisan manner.”

Reps.  Katko and Esty both serve as members of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.  In a hearing this week, Rep. Katko highlighted the impact of the Brownfields program for Central New York and communities nationwide.

Brownfields are segments of land that were once used for industrial purposes or commercial use. nOften, this land is contaminated with hazardous waste or pollution, and requires environmental remediation.  Originally authorized in 2002, the EPA’s Brownfield Program empowers states, communities, and stakeholders to assess, clean up, and redevelop these sites.  However, the EPA’s Brownfield program expired in 2006, though it has continued to receive nominal funding.

Local government officials from across NY-24 applauded Rep. Katko’s efforts in introducing this legislation.

This legislation would reauthorize the EPA Brownfields program through Fiscal Year 2022, at a rate of $250 million per year. It would also increase the cleanup grant amount from $200,000 to $600,000, as well as expand eligibility requirements to certain nonprofits, limited liability corporations, limited partnerships, and community development entities.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, "The Brownfields program has been a vital tool for our community to reclaim old, abandoned industrial sites in need of remediation. I am grateful to Congressman Katko for his work on this important issue and appreciate his leadership to further enhance this valuable program."

“The Brownfields program has helped us invest in and transform properties throughout Oswego County,” stated City of Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow. “I applaud Congressman John Kato for prioritizing the reauthorization and expansion of this program so that we can continue to work towards a stronger, revitalized Oswego.”

City of Auburn Mayor Michael D. Quill said, “As Mayor of a small city in upstate New York, it is often a challenging task to identify, address and revitalize parcels that have been affected by contamination.  In 2010, the City of Auburn benefited from the US EPA Brownfield Assessment Program for both hazardous and petroleum sites. The US EPA Brownfield Assessments grants were instrumental in identifying vacant, underutilized parcels as well as conducting thirteen Phase I and nine Phase II environmental site assessments for properties located near the Downtown Business District, along the Owasco River and within our neighborhoods.  The US EPA Brownfield Assessment Grants also provided the framework for securing a NYS Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) Nomination 2 Study. The work completed under both the US EPA Brownfields Assessment Grants and the NYS BOA has positioned the city to be more proactive in managing brownfields sites and more competitive for redevelopment.  Although the City has been proactively addressing Brownfield sites within our community, we still have many challenges. Brownfield sites are complex and are extremely costly to clean up. It is essential for our community as well as others plagued by brownfields to have the assistance necessary for assessment and cleanup of these sites.  The US EPA Brownfield programs have been and continue to be critical in fostering the redevelopment and reuse of these blighted sites. After all, it is the redevelopment and reuse of these sites that will ultimately clean our environment, create recreational opportunities, provide employment, and revitalize our neighborhoods.”

Wayne County Board of Supervisors Chairman Steve Le Roy stated, “The Brownfields program is critical to redeveloping former industrial properties across Wayne County.  This program allows us to transform sites in our community while creating jobs and stimulating the local economy.  We greatly appreciate Congressman Katko’s leadership in helping to redevelop sites in Wayne County and across the region.”

The Brownfields Reauthorization Act of 2017 would also benefit Area-Wide Revitalization Planning Grants, which are commonly used by communities when creating long-term remediation plans for brownfield sites. These grants assist communities assess a site and the state of its infrastructure, determine the level of investment needed, and identify private and public resources available at the local and federal level while keeping current and future markets in mind. Planning Grants oftentimes expedite the time frame between the assessment and cleanup of a brownfield site.

It is estimated that there are over 450,000 brownfield sites across the country, with at least one brownfield site in every congressional district. Of these sites, 59,000 areas have been remediated and revitalized.  According to a 2007 study, every acre of brownfields redevelopment creates approximately ten jobs. Additionally, on average, for every $1 dollar spent through the EPA’s Brownfields program leverages an average of $18 in outside investment.

This bill will be introduced and referred to both the House Energy and Commerce Committee and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

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