Ranking Member Napolitano Highlights Successful EPA Brownfields Program, Calls for Full Reauthorization

Mar 28, 2017 Issues: Transportation, Water

(WASHINGTON, DC) Today, Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-El Monte) highlighted the successful Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields program, which provides grants and technical assistance to assess, clean up, and sustainably reuse contaminated properties throughout the United States, at a House Transportation Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee hearing.

“Since its inception, the Brownfields program has leveraged more than 122,800 jobs and over $23.6 billion in cleanup and redevelopment funding,” Napolitano said. “Communities, like Rialto, California, have assessed more than 26,400 properties, cleaned up more than 1,500 sites, and have made 66,800 acres ready for reuse. For every $1 of brownfield funding, more than $16 of other public and private dollars are leveraged, and more than 8 jobs are leveraged for every $100,000 of EPA brownfields funds expended.”

Mayor Deborah Robertson of Rialto, California, a witness at today’s hearing, noted that as a partnership between the city, state, and EPA, the Brownfields program has proven critical to economic revitalization and job growth in Rialto and across the country. Mayor Robertson’s and other mayors’ accounts are why Napolitano and her colleagues are troubled by the Trump administration’s plans to eliminate nearly 40 separate programs at EPA, including the Brownfields program.

“The administration’s reluctance to publicly support the Brownfields program is puzzling,” Napolitano continued. “This program’s successes have been hindered by a lack of funds. By EPA’s own estimates, over the past five years, funding deficiencies have caused 1,676 viable proposals to go unfunded. These sites are not only sitting idle and unproductive, but we are missing out on the return on investment that these sites could realize. In fact, had these 1,676 proposals received funding, it is estimated that those grants would have leveraged approximately 54,680 jobs and over $10.3 billion in public and private financing. If this is the success rate of an underfunded program, imagine the potential economic impact and potential for job creation that could come from fully funding the program.”

Napolitano joined her colleagues on the House Transportation Committee and Energy and Commerce Committee in sending a letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on March 10, seeking clarification as to whether the Trump administration will support or eliminate the Brownfields program. As of today’s hearing, EPA has sent no response. Napolitano is an original cosponsor of legislation introduced today to reauthorize and improve the Brownfields program.

“This is a program that has received bipartisan support in the past, and I hope it will continue receiving bipartisan support in the future. The program’s success speaks for itself,” Napolitano added.

Napolitano is the highest-ranking California member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure where she currently serves as the top Democrat on the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, which oversees EPA’s Clean Water Act and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water programs.

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