Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, NJLM Past President, testified on Wednesday on reauthorization of the Brownfields Program on behalf of the League’s federal partner, the National League of Cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Minerals. Other witnesses included Barry Breen, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator, Office of Land and Emergency Management, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Tammy Shifflett Tincher, Greenbrier County Commission, on behalf of National Association of Counties; Lesly Melendez, Executive Director, Groundwork Lawrence, on behalf of the National Brownfields Coalition; and Pat Ford, Director of External Affairs & Business Development, Frontier Group of Companies, Buffalo, NY.
The Brownfields Program expires this year and must be reauthorized for another five years, otherwise the program expires. Mayor Bollwage highlighted local government priorities for the 2023 Brownfields Reauthorization including:
- Higher overall authorization and appropriation levels, as well as higher per-grant amounts that were included in the Infrastructure Improvement and Jobs Act (IIJA), especially for the cleanup and multi-purpose grants.
- Have Congress urge EPA to expand its application parameters. EPA has a more restrictive view of the purpose and targeted area regarding multi-purpose grants than originally envisioned by local governments.
- Increasing the administrative cost allowance from 5% to 10%.
- Allowing applications for an additional cleanup grant for a specific property, even if a community has already received a cleanup grant, and the allowing application for an assessment grant after a community has received a cleanup grant for a specific property.
- Requiring concurrence of local government.
Mayor Bollwage included a summary of the most notable brownfield redevelopment projects in Elizabeth including the Harbor Front Villas, the Jersey Gardens Mall, the Midtown Redevelopment Area, and the Elizabethport/Hope VI.
From his prepared testimony:
“All of these projects demonstrate the transformative nature that redeveloping brownfield sites had on my community. As a result of our efforts, my city now has a refurbished waterfront with new market rate and affordable housing, revitalized neighborhoods, and long-term successful economic development activities throughout the city.”
The hearing was livestreamed and is available for viewing on the committee’s website.
Contact: Paul Penna, Senior Legislative Analyst, email@example.com, 609-695-3481, x110.