76th Annual  Meeting
The U.S. Conference of Mayors
76th Annual Meeting
June 20-24, 2008
Miami

2008 ADOPTED RESOLUTIONS

REAUTHORIZATION OF THE BROWNFIELDS LAW

WHEREAS, brownfields are abandoned or underutilized properties sites whose redevelopment is hindered by either real or perceived environmental contamination; and

WHEREAS, the redevelopment of brownfield sites have been a priority for The U.S. Conference of Mayors for the past 15 years;and

WHEREAS, much progress has been made in redeveloping these sites, particularly after the enactment of the Small Business Liability and Brownfields Redevelopment Act of 2002, there is still an estimated 400-600 thousand brownfield sites throughout the nation; and

WHEREAS, brownfield sites are opportunities for economic development, job creation, and environmental improvements within the nation’s communities; and

WHEREAS, EPA has invested about $800 million in the assessment and cleanup of brownfields since 1995, leveraging more than $9 billion in cleanup and redevelopment monies – a return of more than ten to one, and resulting in the assessment of more than 8,000 properties;

WHEREAS, The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ research indicates that over 186,000 jobs have been created and over $400 million in tax revenues have been generated;

WHEREAS, the nation’s mayors recognize that additional tools are necessary to help accelerate the number of cleanups and redevelopments; and

WHEREAS, the Small Business Liability and Brownfields Redevelopment Act of 2002 was technically authorized for only 5 years, and the need for reauthorization presents an opportunity to re-evaluate and propose improvements that will hasten cleanup and redevelopment of these contaminated and abandoned properties,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that Congress should reauthorize the Brownfields Law and make improvements to the law by increasing EPA’s overall funding for brownfields grants, beginning with $350 million in FY08 and increasing by $50 million annually to a total of $600 million and beyond; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Congress should increase EPA’s funding limit for cleanup of a single site to up to $1 million and under special circumstances, EPA could waive the limit and go up to $2 million per site; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Congress should allow EPA to grant eligible entities the option to apply for multi-purpose grants(of up to $1.5 million) that can be used for the full range of brownfield-funded activities (assessment, cleanup, reuse planning, etc, ) on an area-wide or community-wide basis; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Congress should authorize $20 million for brownfield pilots that demonstrate sustainable reuse, green buildings, and alternative energy and allow use of funds for site assessments, cleanup, site planning, feasibility analysis, and engineering studies related to environmentally beneficial site improvements, such as, high performance/green buildings, green infrastructure, ecosystem restoration, and/or renewable energy production; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Congress should allow EPA grantees that seek to use assessment, cleanup or multi-purpose grants on sites with petroleum contamination should not be required to make the difficult demonstrations that the site is “low risk” and that there is “no viable responsible party” connected with the site but rather replace the “No Viable Responsible Party”language with a prohibition on using funds to pay for cleanup costs for which the recipient of the grant is potentially liable under the petroleum statutes; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, Congress should create greater flexibility in use of grant funds by eliminating the currently defined set-aside of total grant funding for petroleum brownfields and instead substituting a new “Ranking Criteria”that gives some weight to petroleum-contaminated sites; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Congress should allow local government applicants to obtain funding at sites acquired prior to the January 11, 2002 enactment of the Brownfields Revitalization Act – when there was no required standard for“all appropriate inquiries” – provided that the applicant did not cause or contribute to the contamination and performed“appropriate care” -- for these sites, applicants would not have to demonstrate that they performed all appropriate inquiry; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Congress should clarify that non-profits and related community development entities are eligible to receive brownfields assessment, cleanup, revolving loan fund, and job training grants. Currently non-profits are only eligible for cleanup and job training grants; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Congress should exempt local and state government from CERCLA liability if the government unit

  • owns a brownfield as defined by section 101(39);

    1. did not cause or contribute to contamination on the property; and

    2. exercises due care with regard to any known contamination at the site; alternative language would amend section 101(20)

    3. to clarify that properties acquired through eminent domain qualify for the CERCLA exemption for local governments involved in “Involuntary Acquisitions.”