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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Gillibrand pushes for Brownfields approriations

All WNY News     Wednesday, April 19, 2017    

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, with 24 Senate colleagues, urged federal appropriators to include $154 million in federal funding for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Brownfields Program in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget. The EPA's Brownfields Program is a federal program that provides funding and technical assistance to assess and clean up contaminated property sites for redevelopment, and help promote local economic development in communities across the United States. This program allows communities to convert liabilities that otherwise might never be developed into productive local assets. Brownfield funds have laid the groundwork for manufacturing plants, commercial spaces, housing, community recreation facilities, and parks.

"By investing in brownfields, we are turning these sites into usable spaces, revitalizing neighborhoods, attracting new businesses, creating new jobs, and improving environmental conditions in the state and throughout the country," said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "These federal funds would help communities make critical infrastructure investments for economic development and environmental restoration. I will continue to work hard to make sure this funding is included in the Fiscal Year 2017 and 2018 appropriations bills, so that we can keep supporting these essential community infrastructure projects in New York."

Brownfields are properties where moderate contamination threatens environmental quality and public health and can interfere with productive reuse of the sites. As of January 1, 2017, the EPA's Brownfields program has assessed 25,296 properties, made 63,900 acres ready for reuse, supported the creation of 117,525 jobs, and led to $22.612 billion in funding for revitalization projects since the program's inception in 1995. A 2017 study published in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists found that residential properties values increased up to 15.2 percent once surrounding brownfields were assessed or cleaned up.

Joining Senator Gillibrand were Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Al Franken (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Angus King (I-ME), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

The full text of the Senators' letter is included below:                     


Dear Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Udall:
We are writing to ask you to reject the proposed cuts in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Brownfields Program in the President's FY2018 budget request, and to continue funding it at least at the current level of $154 million. This important program drives economic growth by providing funds and technical assistance to assess and clean-up contaminated property sites for redevelopment, and helps promote successful local economic development in communities across the United States. Using funds from the Brownfields program, communities are able to convert liabilities into productive local assets. In the past, Brownfield funds have successfully laid the groundwork for manufacturing plants, commercial spaces, housing, community recreation facilities, and parks. Redeveloping contaminated properties creates jobs, improves environmental quality, and boosts local and state tax revenues.        
As of January 1, 2017 the EPA's Brownfields program has assessed 25,296 properties, made 63,900 acres ready for reuse, leveraged the creation of 117,525 jobs, and $22.612 billion in funding since the program's inception in 1995.  Further, EPA has found that approximately $16.11 is leveraged for each dollar the EPA Brownfields program spends and 8.5 jobs leveraged per $100,000 of EPA brownfields funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements. A study found that residential property values increased 5% to 15.2% once a nearby brownfield was assessed or cleaned up.
Given the high success of EPA's Brownfields Program and its direct importance to economic recovery in rural and urban communities nationally, we are requesting that the program be adequately funded.  While much has been done over the past two decades to clean-up and assess contaminated sites, a strong need still remains. EPA's Brownfields Program is making necessary investments that are helping to rebuild our country and to stimulate economic growth and jobs in our cities and towns.

Thank you for your consideration of our request.  We recognize that there are many competing priorities facing your subcommittee and we hope that you will support this program.

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