Federal Brownfields Program Moves Through Congress. What Does This Mean For Your Projects?

Author: Jim Darling Published: December 1, 2017

The reauthorization of the Federal Brownfields program is starting to wind through Congress and was recently passed by the US House of Representatives.

The current proposal (HR 3017) being reviewed by the Senate, which is always subject to change, amends the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and reauthorizes the federal Brownfield Program at an annual level of $200 million through FY 2022. Among other things, the bill includes the following elements:

  • Extends grant eligibility to nonprofits and community groups
  • Builds in flexibility for the use of a single grant on multiple sites or for multiple purposes
  • Increases the ceiling amount on single grants
  • Continues funding to the states of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, which use the funds creatively

In other provisions, the availability of grants for states and American Indian Tribes were reinstated at an annual authorization of $50 million. Under this vision of the bill, the EPA would set aside as much as $1.5 million for disadvantaged communities in individual grants of $20 thousand; make petroleum sites eligible for brownfield grants if there is no liable party; and other provisions such as special consideration of renewable energy connections.

The bill would also clarify the definition of “bona fide prospective purchaser” to explicitly include those responsible for managing hazardous chemicals at a site under their control through leases lasting at least five years.

For more information on the proposed reauthorization of the Federal Brownfields program contact Jim Darling, MFA Vice President and Principal Planner and member of the National Brownfields Coalition.