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tv   Hearing on EP As Land Revitalization Program  CSPAN  September 29, 2022 7:48am-8:54am EDT

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>> listening to programs on c-span through c-span radio just got easier. tell your smart speaker play c-span radio and listen to washington journal daily at 7 a.m. eastern. important congressional hearings and other public affairs events throughout the day and weekdays at 5:00 pm and 9:00 pm eastern. a fast-paced report on the stories of the day, listen to c-span anytime. tell your smart speaker play c-span radio. c-span powered by cable. >> the senate environmental and public works committee holds a hearing to examine the epa ground field program as they consider its reauthorization. the program provides grants and technical assistance to communities, states, tribes, and others to assess and cleanup contaminated properties.
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>> i call this hearing to order. senator capito, good to see you. thank you for putting this hearing together. it is important. today we will discuss the environmental protection agency's program as we begin to work on program reauthorization. for nearly three decades, this has been proven to be an important source of help to communities forced to contend with long-term aspects of toxic
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waste and other contamination. the program provides federal assistance for communities to revitalize their areas and rededicate the land to productive senators of economic activity. we most recently reauthorized appropriations for a program a strong bipartisan support five years ago in 2018. it is time to review the state of the ground field program and examine what works well and 5 potential ways to update the program so they can best meet the evolving challenges communities face. i would like to say everything i do i can do better and that includes our oversight of this program and the way it operates throughout the country. fortunately we have four distant wish to witnesses, actually three this morning, the third, the fourth remotely. we have three distant wish witnesses joining us in person
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and another remotely and they each possess decades of hands-on experience working with communities, working with state and local governments, and private developers across the country. mister goldstein is joining us remotely. we thank you all for joining us today. if you wouldn't mind? the fellow from west virginia, that would be great, we already had a chance to chat but we look forward to hearing from each of you and before we do we want to delve into the history of this important program. the epa's ground field and plan revitalization program began in 1995 for the purpose of cleaning up thousands of lower risk pollution sites across the country.
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the program provided the seed money and technical assistance to state and local authorities working with private developers to revitalize these fields and transform them. in other words the programs on adversity and pollution, turned it into an opportunity for economic developed. the program has grown in scope and impact. in 2002 congress codified the program into law, authorizing epa to assist work assessments, job training and planning, most recent reauthorization program in 2018, we broaden assistance that can be provided in expanded eligibility for the program. the benefits have proven themselves time and time again. according to the epa the program has assisted in the assessment of 35,000, 35,000
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contaminated properties and cleanups of 2300 sites across the nation in every state. the agency reports every dollar federal assistance leverages over $20, over $20 of nonfederal money for he privatization, this is contributed to the collaboration of 180,000 jobs since 1995. that is a lot of jobs even for a big state like west virginia. we have positive impact of the program firsthand, since the program began, millions and grants hoping to revitalize areas such as railroad funds in delaware. once a shipbuilding site close to the train station, we could go back to world war ii 60, 70 years ago, 10,000 people worked along the christina river, the train station and 10,000 people
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mostly women who helped win the war. when the war was over, we had a toxic site and the question is what to do about it and what we've done about it is replaced it with something we call the wilmington river fund which is now a thriving place to live and work and we have a lot to think with respect to brownfield's program and its wonderful outcome. americans may remember it is a place for president-elect biden after the election two years ago so as we consider brownfield's reauthorization the committee should examine whether specific opportunities to exist to further strengthen this program. i believe this examination should include programs existing capacity and resources in order to help local authorities with areawide and
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regional planning for brownfield remediation. increased support for planning will ensure communities are better able to maximize projects and as the nation continues to grapple with the adverse impacts of climate change and extreme weather, we are reminded that today, thinking of our neighbors and friends in florida, a terrible punishing from hurricane working its way up the coast. the program should also encourage sustainable revitalization projects. by doing so we can support community efforts to become -- reducing greenhouse gas emissions. in addition the program should incorporate environmental justice and practices to ensure people in communities negatively affected by local
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land pollution can fully participate in the benefits of ground field revitalization and finally as we consider ways to improve the program we should ensure the program not only assists communities with financial and technical burdens of revitalizing contaminated lands but also encourages stakeholders to fully engage with residents during planning and execution of projects. let me close if i could by reiterating that now is the right time to explore, revisit improvements to this vital program. last year we provided epa with threefold increase in funding for the brownfield program under the bipartisan infrastructure law which we helped to write in this room but we need to ensure the program can use these additional resources to the greatest effect in assisting our cities, towns, communities and tribes. i look forward to our discussion today and the work that lies at of all of us. we welcome our witnesses in
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person and remotely. and let me turn to senator capito. >> thank you for holding the hearing to talk about epa's program and thank all the witnesses for being here with us today. it is it is a rare occasion when epa program enjoys bipartisan support along the committee's diet. since first being authorized in 2,000 to the brownfield program has become a resounding success story for the economy and the environment. on that used coast, it developed a lot earlier, we have a lot of older sites in both of our states. brownfields are pieces of property where each element is complicated by the presence of hazardous contamination. large variety of contaminated property are potential ground field sites. common examples are abandoned factories, landfills and former gas stations and dry cleaners. we had an issue with a drycleaner in our state. these underdeveloped properties
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line the streets of bustling industrial, commercial and agricultural areas across the nation discouraging investment in job creation, reversing local tax revenues and harming property values. rather than viewing these properties as a stain on our community the brownfield program recognizes the vast untapped economic potential of these contaminated sites can, after they've been successfully remediated. since the program's inception, $36 billion in cranfield funding has been allocated to local communities creating 192,000 jobs. in addition the brownfield program is one of the most effectively leveraged tools across the entire federal government providing return of $20 for every dollar contributed by the epa. brownfield's grant serve is a valuable financing tool for local communities, private investors by providing reliable funding and facilitating long-term reuse planning, the grants help incentivize private sector participation by
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reducing financial risk and shielding developers from potential liability. in order to be successful the brownfield program relies upon establishment of effective public-private partnerships were all parties have a vested interest in the long-term restoration of a contaminated site. partnerships help local communities to enjoy the benefits of economic development for decades to come in while we all recognize the success of brownfield we must acknowledge as the chairman did improvements are needed. this is particularly important if we are to maximize the return on the one. $5 investment the program received from the i ij a. congress appropriately intended brownfield grants to be awarded on a competitive basis. however rigorous and complex application requirements remain a continued source of confusion within the program. applicants typically have only 60 days to complete and submit an application from the date epa announces another year's round of grant felicitate and,
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a short timeframe and copper kid requirements often lead to situations where rural communities are unable to compete with their larger urban counterparts due to lack of resources which unlike larger cities in urban centers, local municipalities typically are operating on a shoestring budget, lack of good fortune of having multiple full-time grant writers on their staff. this makes it an uphill battle for rural communities. .. ultimately leaving many rural brownfield development properties unrealized in disadvantaged areas that really need the most because until you can clean that and we mediate you're not going to get any development about it.
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epa deserves credit for recognizing there's a problem. one way the agency has attempted to address the issue is through the establishment of the technical assistance to brownfield committee program otherwise known as pat. their six recipients of tab funding, a tab funded place referred to as have providers with each being a scientist pacific region in the country. have providers serve as independent resource assisting applicants with expert technical assistance and guidance to help them better navigate the brownfield application process. they serve as an important role in facilitating more grant applications small and rural communities that lack their own grant writing capacity. so we are privileged to have with us today someone who has worked with the united states program and also is worked in west virginia for many, many years and that is george carico. george has a direct of the west virginia regional brownfields
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assistance center at marshall university. he has devoted his entire career to the brownfields arena helping to bring much-needed funding to our state and the region. mr. carico i want to recommend you for the high praise the west virginia brownfield assistance centers often received from the broader brownfield stakeholder communities. forward approach to real appreciation in the grant opportunities should be a model for other rural areas in the country. look forward to hearing about the work you've undertaken in rural areas to facilitate economic redevelopment and community vibrancy. we are joined by gerald pouncey, chairman of the morris, manning, & martin law firm. with decades of experience in acquisition redevelopment of hundreds of brownfield property. mr. pouncey will provide the score with much-needed perspective from the developers site. mr. pouncey work was praised by epa as a best practice and brownfield redevelopment. he continues to received numerous accolades have been honored as environmental lawyer of the year in 2017 and is one
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of atlanta's most 500 influential leaders so thank you for coming today. i look forward to hearing about how private sector participation in the brownfield program is so important to long-term success. i want to thank everybody for being here. it's in the port huron and chairman harper i will yield back to you. >> thank you very much, senator capito. i just want to add a lot of people watch which goes on in washington they think we never agree on anything. you are welcome to a committee today and as we work across the aisle remarkably well. the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law ten months ago, most far-reaching transformative infrastructure legislation in the history of the country. we reported it out those highway bridges unanimously. we reported out the wastewater flood unanimously. we have reported out, became the
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foundation of which the bipartisan infrastructure bill was built. more recently we have passed out unanimously water resources development before the senate, and we have done similar things with recycling legislation this year. so more often than not we find a middle and work toward getting stuff done. i'm a practical politician, recovering governor and store capitalist and much practical politician. we're both west virginians at heart and so it's a pleasure. welcome to our team and we're delighted you are with us today. in terms of introductions, senator capito has already provided that for at least a couple of our witnesses. i would add mr. goldstein whose environmental law attorney and later in the brownfield
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development, thanks for joining us in florida. he is a founding chairman of the florida brownfields association. i know mr. goldstein wanted to join us in person but hurricane ian has prevented his travel. glad he can join us over webb asked which understand he is literally doing from the middle of the hurricane. clearwater, they're under the gun today so we think of them and neighbors up and down the gulf coast. mr. buschur, brad buschur, brad, nice to see you to join us. budget director for the groundwork lawrence in lawrence massachusetts where i understand your lead a number of ground fields redevelopment within that particular area. mr. pouncey, would add to the comments already from senator capito, chairman, i said to them before we start i said we are
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both chairman. can never have too many of them. chairman of the morris, manning, & martin law firm in atlanta, georgia, which along with mr. goldstein firm is member of national brownfields coalition and i understand your the principal author of george's new brownfields legislation as well so many interesting insight you will provide. and finally a friend from west virginia, mr. carico, director of west virginia brownfields assistance center at marshall university, and we are marshall, which assist committees across virginia. i told him before we started that my sis is a graduate, proud graduate of marshall and a bunch of my cousins as well. about every ten, 20 years they knock somebody off in college football. ohio state i think about -- michigan, michigan about 15 years ago an earlier this year notre dame. my sister and my cousins are
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hard to live with when that happens. but i'll get through it and so will they. our thanks to each of you for joining us here mr. goldstein, we are going to lead off with you and again thank you for connecting with us in the very difficult and trying time in florida. these proceed. thank you. >> thank you. good morning chairman harper, ranking member capito, and members of the committee. my name is michael goldstein. on the managing partner of the goldstein environmental law firm, principal of environmental redevelopment venture, and chair of the national brownfields coalition public policy redevelopment incented. the coalition join the managed by smart growth american center for -- recycling is nonpartisan alliance advocating for equitable and remediation. my remarks today are informed by three decades of experience assisting businesses, local
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governments and unity stakeholders, remediate, redevelopment and reuse contaminated sites. other witnesses today will no doubt speak to the magnificent brownfields grant program administered by epa which has transformed out by mentally challenged the marginalized communities think about pollution where they live, work, pray and play. the funding that congress has increasingly made available beginning in the mid-1990s has given the voiceless a voice and the powerless agency. this program is constantly evolving, innovating and reinventing. in terms of regulatory strategy is as close to perfect as what could possibly want. the program is animated by the people who implement it so i want to take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate epa staff in the brownfields program and a superfund redevelopment program. if there are harder working more committed professionals in the environmental arena who make a difference in the lives of millions of americans every single day, i haven't met them
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yet. turning to her substantive recommendations, the coalition encourages the committee to double down on the boldest of the program by adding to the resources that are currently available not just enhancing those on the books. we need to add more tools to the toolbox by innovating legislatively with respect to financial resources, and providing additional mandates to certain federal agencies to increase the regulatory firepower that communities and stakeholders can tap into. on the financial side we recommend three new discrete funding opportunities. first, as part of a reauthorization bill, renew this federal brownfield tax deduction. deduction. before it expired in 2011 this incentive allowed a party who voluntarily investigated and related content a property to deduct its cleanup costs you incur. a report prepared by the coalition should section 198 of the tax code reduce remediation costs by one-third to one half.
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it was used more than 625 times in more than 40 states. second, we strongly recommend the creation of a brownfields loan guarantee program. this program would combine aspects of the d.o.e. loan guarantee program with a new market tax credits program to leverage many billions of private-sector dollars for early-stage bridge financing of redevelopment projects that are considered too risky for conventional lenders. in my professional experience there are countless projects that fail and the concept stage because they are caught in an unwinnable position. they are not loan worthy until the environmental risks are cleared but the environmental risks can't be cleared and filled loan funding becomes available. third, brownfields reauthorization is an elegant and timely vehicle to combat the affordable housing crisis in this country. we are recommending a significant expansion of the wing which affordable housing is funded at the federal level. to that end we would like to see
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an increase of a 4% and 9% low-income housing tax credit under section 42 of the irs code to 6% and 12% for affordable housing built on brownfield sites. a stepped-up basis under section 42 of the tax code of between 130%-150% for affordable housing built on brownfield sites, and a huge game changer, a new one time lihtc in the amount of 80% of the cost of land acquisition to develop affordable housing built on brownfields. on agency resources side, mr. chairman, we believe there's a much more active role that at least three agencies under this committees jurisdiction can play in support of brownfields revitalization. the federal highway administration, the army corps of engineers, and economic development administration. each of these agencies is deeply resourced, experience and credentials but to date has been
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partly absent in the federal brownfields arena. first, congress should direct fha to provide technical and financial assistance including grant funding for brownfield redevelopment projects that are transit oriented, , that invests environmental justice neighborhoods, that provide multiple transit options, and that reduce the distance, the cost and impact on climate of people from home or school and work in all points in between. second, the army corps likely has the largest working storehouse of environmental data and information regarding remediation technology in the country. access to this information should be readily available to stakeholders everywhere. the core could and should provide guidance regarding lessons learned and cleanup of sites as well as emerging contaminants pfas. the rich experience with coastal communities creates tremendous
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opportunities for disseminating climate change focus brownfield strategies. also relatedly we would like to see a brownfields grant program administered through the corps that emphasizes climate change, sea level, a few public health risk and environmental justice. finally, mr. chair, congress should expand on epa's mandate to promote sustainable job growth and the building of durable regional economies in two ways. first, by directing it eda convene a national public-private summit on brownfields economic policy and priorities, and second, by directing the creation of a grant program that pulls from epa's existing funding appropriations and repackages them to be utilized for combination of cleanup public health, , job creation and job training activities with an emphasis on climate stewardship, energy security, and creating
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affordable and transit oriented housing. the national brownfields coalition thanks to committee for its consideration of these remarks and i look forward to respond to any questions. >> thank you so much for the thoughtful testimony. i will just say to the witnesses are here, one of the things i was look for hearings is where is the consensus among the witnesses. and mr. goldstein had laid out quite a list there. interested especially in seeing what you agree with. maybe a couple areas were met you don't so that will be awful. okay. thanks, mr. goldstein, and we wish everyone down there in florida the very best. we are here to help. i think our next, mr. buschur, i think you are up, and we are delighted you are able to be here in person. thank you. please proceed. chairman harper, ranking member
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capito and members of the committee, thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify today on the environmental protection agency's around fields program. i represent groundwork lawrence where i'm a project direct responsible for leading organizations environmental improvement programs. groundwork lawrence is a committee based organization working to create high-quality, to create a high-quality built and natural environment by renovating existing parks, creating new recreational opportunities, and stewarding lawrence three rivers but we transform vacant and contaminated properties into parks and green spaces to support healthy active lifestyles. we are part of a network of independent locally-based groundwork trusts in 21 cities in 18 states. trusts are established with support from the national park service, the environmental protection agency, and local stakeholders. groundwork trust deployed a collaborative community wide and people centered approach in the
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development of green spaces and the restoration of the environment in the city, ensuring all stakeholders are invested in the project. i am speaking to you today on behalf of groundwork lawrence about the organizations work in the city of lawrence, massachusetts. located 30 miles north of boston, lawrence is a plant industrial city founded in the early 1840s. central to the cities rise as a center of textile and paper production is the construction of the great stone dam along the merrimack river which diverted water to the north and south can asked to provide power to the mills along its bank. lawrence quickly became known as the immigrant city. by 1910, 90% 90% of the cities 80,000 residents were either first or second generation americans in the city had become the largest manufacturer of worsted wool and textiles in the world. however, by the end of world war ii deindustrialization was in full force as mill owners move
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their capital and deployment out of lawrence to lower-cost regions. the challenges associated with lawrence is deindustrialization are significant. abandoned mills are impacted by polly aromatic hydrocarbons, petroleum, chlorinated solvents, arsenic, lead, pcbs and cadmium. a wave of arson and abandonment in the '80s left vacant house and lots potentially contaminated. multiple trash incinerators formerly located in lawrence have all been shuttered at the left behind soils contaminated with dioxins from burning plastics and medical waste. the cities of densely populated neighborhood frequently abut industrial and commercial areas, exposing residents to contaminants by direct contact or installation of vapors via migration from soil into indoor air. many of the contaminated properties are small and interspersed from residential areas and present potential risk to human health for the homes and businesses surrounding them.
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the massachusetts department of environment protection list 332 identified sites with environmental constraints spread across lawrence's six square miles. today the city is an economic and cultural center of the merrimack valley with over 90,000 residents, 80% of whom are latino. the city has benefited from hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment in redevelopment of it's a story mills that now provide market rate and affordable homes for residents. unlike many older urban centers, the city has a young and growing population fueled by the influx of caribbean immigrants who bring new energy, businesses and dreams. in a city notorious for ethnic tensions there is a growing momentum behind the cities broad-based community revitalization efforts, a hard-working entrepreneur community, a high functioning nonprofit sector and renewed community vitality with the
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election of mayor brian to piña the recently led a tour of city brownfield redevelopment targets. since thanking 96 the city of lawrence has received 3.659 in epa round fields program funding. the city has successfully utilize these grants to bring forth substantial economic benefits including leveraging 12 million and state and federal funds and 51 million of private funding to assess, cleanup and redevelop complex industrial properties and accretion more than 200 instructor jobs as well as permanent jobs related to the union crossing project. lawrence currently has two active brownfield cleanup grants to support redevelopment of the largest remaining undeveloped parcels in the city. the most challenging project is the tom barela site, a 14-acre former recycling facility abutting residential properties and a school with extensive pcb contamination. the of the project a mac paper
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site comprised of 27 interconnected dilapidated buildings in conversing over 13 million square feet built in 1866 the site has become a perennial fire hazard placing first responders and public health at risk. those properties of benefited from actions taken by the epa brownfields program prior to the city taking ownership. epa's region one emergency response planning branch undertook significant remedial action to address imminent public health risks created by private property owners. groundwork lawrence have been fortunate to support the cities efforts to reclaim brownfields to provide residents with access to recreational opportunities with the neighborhoods where the poverty rate, income levels and sensitive populations are drastically higher than the rest of the state. central to this work is accretion of the spigot river greenway. over 12 12 years groundwork e city created 60 riverfront parks and connected it with a 3.5 mile long shared use path providing residents with close to home
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high-quality parks. epa brownfields program funding supported remediation of four of the new parts by providing $600,000 of the over $10 million required to construct these projects. additionally the land and water conservation fund and community development block grant programs are vital to supporting the creation of the spaces. as this committee undertakes reauthorization of brownfields program, groundwork lawrence recommends evaluating three areas of the program. the statutory limit placed on epa's cleanup grants is 500,000 per parcel which is a significant amount of money but off-site disposal and transportation costs have increased dramatically over the past five years. another item future legislation should address is making building demolition and eligible cleanup expense. uncontrolled demolition of buildings through fire or neglect is often the source of environmental contamination in soils at places of public and environment at risk. most important future
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legislation should require strong community engagement to ensure all impacted residents have a strong voice in the redevelop the process of brownfields. thank you and i look forward to your questions. >> mr. buschur, thank you very much. now we return to mr. pouncey. please proceed. thank you. welcome. >> mr. chairman, ranking member capito, thank you -- [inaudible] >> a very personal issue to me. i grew up in a textile mill village in central alabama where my family and i worked either in the mills or in the surrounding manufacturing facilities around those mills. all of those mills are now closed, and abandon. and so i yam very sensitive, senator capito, to some of the questions initially you raised about how do we redevelop in some of these world or not so urban areas which suffer from the same concerns about brownfields that you suffer in the metropolitan areas that
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mr. buschur mentioned. in discussing brownfields it's important to understand the consequences of the field to clean up these sites. in large measure these properties have either been as in the case with the mills that i mentioned completely abandon or in some instances they are severely underutilized, meaning their operating on on a skell crew to avoid intentionally certain epa permitting requirements kicking and once they are closed. they become significant safety hazards particularly two young children as an attractive nuisance. they represent a threat to the communities in that condition. they serve as a magnet for crime in many instances, and they also constitute environmental risks to the surrounding communities simply because of curating buildings, very often contain a number of hazardous substances.
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asbestos is one that comes to mind immediately, and the contamination that exist in the soil or in the storm water. what it don't think we're focused on and i'm going to take a little bit of departure from the first two witnesses comments is the challenges that we have two redevelop these sites. particularly from a product perspective. they require these sites can these brownfield sites require a significant upfront investment in capital and in cost. very often the testing that you do to determine if the site is even viable for redevelopment, that testing costs five to ten times what you do if you're developing a greenfield. similar you're making that investment with the certainty that you're going to realize the ultimate redevelopment because very often those test results may say that the redevelopment is not viable because of the
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level of impacts that exist at that site. so we need to recognize that challenge for a private developer coming in and making this investment. he's putting a significant amount of his working capital at risk with no certainty, in fact, with -- to realize at risk of a come back to that in a few minutes in terms of financial incentives. the second difficulty, and i say this both as leading a lot of brownfield redevelopment efforts across the country but also personally doing some redevelopment in these areas as well, is there is an inherent delay in cleaning the site up before you start the redevelopment, and there is an inherent additional cost that must occur with respect to that cleanup after you purchase a property. so snotty as investment you make before you buy. investment you make for purposes of cleanup.
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i'll come back to that in a minute as well. so the question becomes, how do we create the incentive that encourages the private sector either on its own or jointly with the public sector to redevelop the sites? i would offer one of the most effective ways to do this is to move the site to state brownfield programs that exist, in fact, in all of your states, and in many of the states of the committee members that are on this committee. and i'll give you one example of the effectiveness of those. mr. chairman, you mentioned i was the author of the district which would begin and implementation of that law and 2004. since that one was admitted, just in the state of georgia, over 1300 properties have gone
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into brownfields program, and over 700, almost 800 properties have achieved cleanup under that program. and that is a private incentivized program for cleanup and it's been effective not just in the metropolitan areas of georgia. it's been effective in the rural areas of georgia. the reason, like those programs, provides two things that are critical here number one, it provides a financial incentive to conduct that cleanup. you are able to recover your cleanup costs back from their property taxes. so if i spend $1 million on cleanup and my property, because the redevelopment has increased in value, i am able to recover from the increase in value. my cleanup costs. we are also able to monetize that which means if i sell the property later, my buyer who will then also benefit from that offset in taxes that i can recover that from a buyer. that's a major incentive which
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is quite frankly underwritten a lot of these deals that otherwise would not occur. the second protection that provides which is common with a lot of the state programs that i discussed is a liability protection. senator capito, you mentioned earlier, and that is if i am a buyer who had no responsibility for the contamination i didn't even own the property when the examination occurred, and i am agreeing to come in and conduct a state of approved clean up, ,f i don't have certain liability protections attached to me in doing that i have no incentive to come in and perform that cleanup. most of the states have recognized that and introduce these liability protection provisions, some broader than others, that gives you protection and quite candidly and perhaps even more importantly, give your lenders protection. so i'm able to get the financing. that is also important when
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we're dealing with rural redevelopment or small-town redevelopment as well as urban redevelopment. having to be able to get the financing sources. the other item that i would note, anticipation of a test on over the last two weeks i've spoken with the heads of several brownfield programs across the south, individuals with whom i deal on a weekly basis. and i've asked them what is the biggest issue for them in terms of their ability to even more successfully implement these brownfield programs. and for them, honestly, it's funding for the grant programs. they, the states, we talk about where we can invest this money in assessments and in cleanup and so i would like to come back to your cleanup issue enemy as
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well -- >> your time has expired. i'm not going to cut you off but we have other with witnessh speedy thank you, mr. chairman. types of real quickly. but the predominant comment oldest brownfield programs has been, we need to funding to keep these programs active. some of them are fee-based but the fees don't cover all the cost of the program and that is the predominant concern that i hear among those brownfield programs. finally, i would note an item that my co-witness mentioned earlier, and that is there's been a lot of money spent in this grant programs on assessment but the real prize, the real cost is on the cleanup side. and so raising the limit on the funds associated with cleanup is absolutely imperative in terms of allowing these programs to move forward. it is one thing i could point to that's a great, but that's a
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burden, you get to the front door but you can't get in the front door because you don't have the funds to do the cleanup. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very, very much for the testimony, all of you. mr. carico, you are on. welcome. >> thank you, senator carper and senator capito. would appreciate the opportunity to be here. i'm george carico, director of the west virginia brownfields assistance center at marshall university. i'm here today to offer our experience in the valley and the board's redevelopment brownfield properties and service support for continued brownfields program and to offer some input on how this out of the program can be strengthened. our brownfield central works in conjunction with the brownfield center at west virginia university. these centers were established in 2005 by state legislation to assist communities and organizations across west virginia and redeveloping brownfield properties for new and productive use. we've seen firsthand the importance of vba brownfields
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funding, how these investments have resulted in strengthening of local and regional economies while adding new community vibrancy and resiliency to our cities and towns. re-utilizing brownfield properties for new commercial and industrial businesses, residential use, government, recreational recreational use, it's been quite prosperous for several communities and it's our goal to see more successes, especially in our smaller and more rural communities. west virginia is like most states, we have thousands of brownfield properties found in all sizes and conditions. these properties can be challenging to redevelop, primarily due to the environmental hazards they contain or are perceived to be present. properly assessing and if needed remediating environmental hazards is vital to transform it is properties into new productive use while ensuring the future safety of human
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health and the environment. vba brownfields funding is providing this vital component. so since 2005 our centers have seen a wide variety of successful brownfield projects. epa states they've invested approximately $41 $41 millin brownfield funding and west virginia, resulting in an estimated $1.6 billion in leveraged funds, and creating about 5400 jobs in our state. while i can provide dozens of examples, i will quickly focus on three different but equally important projects that illustrate the success. the first one is the shepherdstown library. shepherdstown is one of the oldest towns in west virginia and they were in dire need of a new library building as the old building was way too small and had an adequate parking. lots of issues there. the most suitable location that could provide enough space was identified at the edge of their town, and decades ago that was the former town dump.
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the site was fully assessed, and corrective actions were conducted. in july of this year the town celebrated the opening of its new library. second example is the huntington fire station. this brownfield site consisted of a former gas station at the dry cleaner facility. brownfield funds were utilized to assess the property, identify the hazardous contaminants in the soils and groundwater. the site was entered into the west virginia voluntary remediation program and recently a certificate of completion was issued. now a new and strategically located fire station is under construction. last example of giving is the beech bottom industrial park. a steel mill operator for decades along the ohio river. after closing and sitting vacant for many, many years brownfields funding was used to assess and remediate the site. in august of this year it was announced that an electric pontoon boat manufacturing company will be the first tenet on part of the property,
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providing 100 new jobs and investing $5 million into the facility there. these are again just a few examples of projects epa brownfields investments have played a critical role. if this funding were not available, most of these projects would not have happened. this funding gets environmentally impacted properties ready for new use, clearing the way for other funding streams to be utilized that will result in successful projects. while we have a lot of success stories, we have many, many more sites that still need attention, especially in our smaller communities and our rural areas where the number of brownfield properties may be less but are just as equally important. due to limited capacity and resources it's much more difficult for the smaller communities to compete against the larger cities and urban areas. successfully applying for funding and meeting all the requirements can be a daunting challenge for the community is,
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and they are often at a disadvantage to successfully compete. so in closing i will say this. the epa has numerous programs that are of tremendous value and importance to the u.s., though we like many others consider the brownfields program to be there crown jewel. some changes to the competitive process should be considered to make it easier for smaller communities to compete but the brownfield program is definitely a true champion. i thank you and look forward to your questions. >> we have been looking for to testimony. let me just say you met and exceeded all of you met and exceeded our hopes. i want to again commend our staffs for funny you and can continue to come and join us. i already telegraphed my pitch and indicate one of the things i'm looking for exciting consensus. we are pretty good on this committee in funny consensus on major issues. i mentioned some of those earlier.
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i'm going to start off by asking ichi to briefly respond to this but we will start mr. boushey with you that mr. bush are with. interesting, two ideas we think there's consensus among the four a few that are are important that you think we should really pursue. of all the things you've heard and said, listen, where ari couple of great areas we could pursue, should pursue because it's a lot of consensus? >> well, , i spent a lot of my time building parks and there's never enough money to do everything the community wants. as illustrated by my testimony, epa cleanup money provides a very small sliver of the overall amount of funding provided to construct these spaces. communities are obligated to maintain that to make sure the space is safe for residents. the statutory limit increase is important and i would also go further to say that sites that
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remain -- have received funding for the epa should also previously proclaimed should also be eligible for additional cleanup funds. the statutory limit used to be 200,000. so i think there's consensus on increasing the statutory limit. the second area where i think we didn't hear it from the individuals today but i know listening sessions in regional one really highlighted the need for building demolition to be an eligible cleanup expense. it's pretty wild a mill building has to burn at the contaminants have to end up in the soils to be eligible for cleanup. >> thanks. mr. pouncey, just quickly two areas we think there's consensus we ought to drill down on. [inaudible]
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-- raising the limit on the remediation cost component is a big issue for purpose of these grants which again as i mentioned earlier very often you got the assessed money to get to the front door but you can't will get because you can't afford to clean up. i would consider that to be a significant item along with as part of the including demolition costs. the second item with which i would agree and i think mr. goldstein may have mentioned it, but that is reintroducing and enacting or extending the brownfield tax credit which allows you at the federal level to expense your cost in the year that they occur from a remediation stamp what. >> okay, thank you. same question, mr. carico. what great ideas do you think there's a lot of great ideas are. >> was for supply completely agree with the cleanup aspects. i will add though one good
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thing, this route of current funding that's come up, there are actually three layers to the cleanup grant process, or three levels of money, 500,000, 1 million, and 2 million. higher numbers are reduced number of grants, probably needs to be more in the higher level but it's good to see that that is a dancer because it's costing a lot more to immediate sites. second, i want to give a big amen to the demo site. finding demolition money is always a very great difficult one. the third one i would add is the complexity, the application process for smaller communities with a limited capacity and resources, it is very daunting and challenging for them. it's hard for them to compete against your larger cities and urban areas. so putting in some items that could help them to where they can compete a little bit more level playing field would be a great benefit for everybody i think. >> okay good. mr. goldstein, are you still
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with us? >> absolutely. following a long very, very closely, mr. chairman. thank you very much. my first item where i see consensus starts with an observation that ranking member capito made and that is with respect to reforming the grant administrative process. it's overly burdensome and if we could streamline that that what i think increase the competitiveness of not only rural communities but environmental justice immunities who are also underresourced, even though they are in urban areas. that's number one. and an amen to the amen we heard on including demolition costs in the grant process the second area of consensus is with my brother joe pouncey, and that is finding a way to have epa -- primary federal enforcement so we can get those sites into
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state brownfield programs where they can enjoy a state-based liability incentive, economic incentives. in many states including in my state in florida the two are mutually exclusive. if the site is under federal enforcement it is an eligible to participate in the state brownfield program. i think there's a lot of bang for the buck in looking at,, exploring that come relinquishing those federal enforcement jurisdiction. >> thank you. senator ernst, store capital has graciously offered to step aside of the to ask you questions. thank you for being a faithful attendee of these hearings. >> i appreciate that. had a tough battle with the chair when i got in but i won. >> let the record show senator ernst one, chair zero. >> thanks to all of our witnesses for being here today. really do appreciate the discussion. the city of des moines has recently gained ownership of
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what is known as the former tyco site which is been on the epa's national priority list since thinking 83. des moines has taken a number of steps forward in collaboration with the epa and i would department of natural resources to an attempt to redevelop this property. the goal is to house a professional soccer stadium and bring economic development opportunities to the community however, there's always a however, however, sites on the national priority list are not eligible for brownfields funds. so mr. pouncey, in your experience how many sites have you worked with that are no longer owned by that original pollution source such as the geico site in des moines? >> many, many, and i would offer to the entire committee and one
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of the things that we met with epa regarding is the effort to get these sites offer the national priority list so that they can be eligible for state programs that allow for the items which i mentioned earlier, which is tax relief potentially, which is liability protection for the buyer that is coming into by that site and redevelop the site. we have also introduced the concept of partial deletion which means even though all of the site may not be removed, at least for lion's share of the site can be removed. so that portion would be eligible for the state program and proceed to the steer program. >> i think you answered my second question. i was going to ask if you believe it would be appropriate for sites who have transferred that ownership then to be eligible for those brownfields funds. so absolutely. i think we have work to do
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there. we are blocking a lot of really great economic development by not engaging with those properties. so i really do appreciate that. mr. carico, did i say that correctly? okay, thank you. given your experience what steps do you think would be most impactful in streamlining both the brownfields grant application and the implementation process? >> streamlining the process? >> streamlining. >> that would be a wonderful step in the right direction. it is cumbersome to put these applications together. we work with communities as an example we've been doing webinars with communities this past summer telling about the grant process and helping them to understand this is not an easy task that you are about to encounter. try to take them through step by step what is required in each of, and the overall application process. so by being able to streamline that a little bit there's so
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much information that is required. it gets down into things like health statistics, cancer rates, lung diseases, all these different things. epa want you to tell a good story would application. you have to fit the contaminant that are in your community that you're looking to deal with against those health concerns. a lot of times especially and are more rural communities it's hard to get that data that can be presented. so we are already at a a disadvantage and then you lose points for that because you can't score well in that particular category. we should put more, we should make sure we keep more of the focus on assessing that property, figuring out what is there, what needs to be cleaned up in the figuring out the strategy to do just that and then apply the cleanup grant funding to go do just that. simplifying that a little bit is going to help all of us down the road especially again with our smaller communities. >> that's great to hear. thank you thank you so o
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think that's important as well. let's get on it. thank you very much, ranking member capito, and, of course, chairman harper, thank you. >> you bet, thank you so much. >> glad you conquered your chair. that's very good. >> senator cardin has joined us from maryland and we've been joined from alaska, senator sullivan and -- [inaudible] welcome. you are recognized. >> first of all let me thank the chairman and ranking member for conducting this hearing. the brownfields legislation has been critically important. i represent the state of maryland, so let me talk about trade . atlantic which is one of the largest brownfield sites in the country. for those that are not familiar it was the sparrows point steelyard from the 1800s to 2012. at one time it was the largest steel producing facility in the united states.
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when it shuddered in 2012, there was close to $70 million of work that had to be done to clean up the environment. so today as a result of the brownfields legislation, this property has been reprogrammed. we now have amazon, home depot, under armour, bmw, volkswagen. we have the d.o.e. offshore wind initiative. we have as well as large railyards connecting two class one railroad and seven. it is a cob for economic growth for the future transitioning from a steelyard production facility to its moderate needs. i'm a strong advocate for brownfields and for the legislation that we're talking about today. but i would just like to focus
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on what aspect of as to how we could do perhaps even a stronger job. we know most brownfields are located in challenging communities. these are older communities by definition an older types of facilities. so how do we focus the legislation to be more effective in regards to environmental justice and helping the underserved communities? i welcome your thoughts as to how as a look at reauthorization how would we want to provide additional incentives so that we can reach of those communities, sometimes these sites might be kind of small, other times they may be large. they may be located in urban centers, they may be located in rural cities but how do we deal with the unusual commitments to communities that don't have the same resources that other communities may have in their
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brownfield sites? who's the first witness, person willing to help here? >> yes, sir. happy to try to answer that. i'm in west virginia. we have different set up. we had two brownfields assistance center our state legislation put those into the back in 2005 so it's actually our job to go and work with local communities to help them to understand the daunting challenges going after these grant funds. it is literally handholding 101, step-by-step getting them to understand what the environmental contaminants are all about, how do you address them, all the different issues that are there. so we're doing that in our state and we've had a lot of success with it. the tab providers -- >> are we helping you do that? >> this is speeders -- >> how can the federal government help you do this?
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>> you have the tab provided, technical assistance providers, i think they're six of them if i'm not mistaken. my counterpart at west virginia university one of those provider so they work to do that same thing to start interacting. the problem needs be a lot more work done there if you're going to get after those more rural more smaller communities. and they have to tell you, it takes a whole lot of one-on-one meetings in order to really get them on board. >> i agree with you. so you were saying we could help, the federal government, in providing the resources for technical assistance for community is that have challenges working through the application process for grants and eligibility. can we make the grant simpler and more focus to make it easier for these communities? >> that would make us all happy here, i can assure you. and again for our smaller
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communities, they are really kind of a step behind just because it's very difficult to be able to pull all the requirements into those applications. if you don't score well in just one little subsection of an application you probably won't get funded. as was mentioned earlier with had projects the score 92. out of 100. in school that is in a, that these were not funded because it didn't score high enough. >> mr. goldstein might want to add something to this. i know his virtual. >> i matter in the brownfield -- i'm listening carefully and eagerly. senator, thank you for your question. i think that are two specific strategies that the federal government can employ to address your important concern. one is to overly induce the private sector. here in the state of florida, the legislature has put its a farm on the scale for affordable housing on brownfield sites and
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for access to healthcare on brownfield sites. in my earlier testimony i suggested ways in which the federal government could provide heightened subsidies to affordable housing developers through the loan housing tax program for developers invest in communities that need critical for the housing. i also provide testimony speedy we will break away hear from this recorded program. you can watch it in its entirety if you go to our website right now we're going to take you live to tallahassee for florida governor ron desantis is giving an update on hurricane in your response efforts. the storm made landfall yesterday as as a strong caty four hurricane. live coverage on c-span2. >> first responders from the local, state, and federal level dissented on southwest florida. the coast guard has been performing rescue missions on the


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