Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Brown supports bipartisan brownfields bill

Earlier this month, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) outlined his support for the Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development Act of 2013 (BUILD Act), new legislation that would provide additional tools and resources to communities working to redevelop brownfields.

Redevelopment of these abandoned industrial and commercial sites can be problematic due to complications and additional costs arising from hazardous substances, pollutants, or other contaminants that must be remediated before reinvestment can occur.

The BUILD Act would modernize and improve the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Brownfields Program by adding nonprofits to the entities eligible for assessment grants and allowing the EPA to award multipurpose grants that include multiple elements of a project, including site inventory, characterization, planning, or remediation, for one or more brownfield sites. The bill would also provide technical assistance for rural and low-income communities as well as waterfront sites and renewable energy facilities.

Funding available for site remediation would be increased from $200,000 to $500,000 and could be increased to $650,000 at the EPA administrator's discretion.

In connection with the bill, Brown's office released a county-by-county list of more than 250 brownfield sites in Ohio, including nearly two dozen in Hamilton County.

"Brownfields can be found in big cities and small towns in all parts of our state," Brown said in a prepared release. "Brownfields don't have to be sites of blight – they can be remediated and redeveloped to attract new economic development and job creation."

Since 1992, the EPA has awarded nearly 140 grants to Ohio communities for site assessments, remediation, revolving loans, and job training.

Previous reading on BC:
Study: Proximity to brownfields lowers property values, costs $2.2M in annual tax revenue (4/3/13)
Brownfield grants now one program, to go through JobsOhio (3/8/13)
City-county coalition to apply for $600K in brownfield funds (11/27/12)
Port, Hamilton Co, City accepting applications for brownfield cleanup grants (3/29/11)
Ohio Dept of Development launches new brownfield program (1/24/11)