A bipartisan group of lawmakers, including Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware; Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma; Edward J. Markey, D-Massachusetts; Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota; Cory Booker, D-New Jersey; and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, led a successful effort to include the Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development Act of 2015 — BUILD Act — in the final Senate omnibus appropriations legislation for fiscal 2018.
The Brownfields program, which is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and has traditionally enjoyed strong bipartisan support, provides grants and technical assistance to states, local governments, tribes and redevelopment agencies to support the assessment, cleanup and reuse of Brownfield sites. In 2017, $80 million provided in grants through the Brownfields program leveraged over $24 billion in additional investment, supported nearly 130,000 jobs and brought 69,200 acres of idle land back to being ready for productive use. Among other things, the BUILD Act reauthorizes the Brownfields program through fiscal year 2023, provides funding for technical assistance grants to small communities and rural areas, expands the scope of eligible grant recipients to include nonprofit community groups and authorizes funding for multi-purpose grants to tackle more complex sites.
“With more than 450,000 Brownfield sites across the country, we have our work cut out for us, but the BUILD Act will help us make progress cleaning up these contaminated sites and breathing life into formerly degraded areas,” said Carper. “Since the program began, Delaware has received nearly $11 million in grants, and we see the positive impact of this program in places like the revitalized riverfront in Wilmington, Delaware that continues to bring new jobs and spur economic growth across southern Wilmington. Instead of cutting funding and crippling this economic driver as President Trump’s budget proposed, the BUILD Act will help ensure that communities across the country have the tools they need to clean up contaminated sites and make our environment healthier and more productive like we have in Wilmington.”
Highlights of the BUILD Act:
— Authorizes up to $20,000 in technical assistance grants to eligible entities in small communities, Indian tribes, rural areas and disadvantaged areas.
— Expands the eligibility for Brownfields grants for nonprofit organizations to include certain nonprofit organizations, limited liability corporations, limited partnerships and community development entities.
— Increases the funding limit for remediation grants to $500,000 for each site, with some exceptions for higher funding; and authorizes multi-purpose grants up to $1 million, which provide greater certainty for long-term project financing.
— Relieves state and local governments from liability under certain circumstances if they own a contaminated site but did not cause the contamination.
— Allows eligible entities to use up to 5 percent of their Brownfields grant funding for administrative costs.
— Incentivizes clean energy development on brownfields and revitalization of waterfront sites.
— Reauthorizes the Brownfield program at the same authorized funding level — $250 million per year — through fiscal 2023.