On July 27 the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure successfully passed H.R. 1758, the “Brownfields Reauthorization Act of 2017,” bipartisan legislation that formally reauthorizes the brownfields grant and state voluntary cleanup program for fiscal years 2017 to 2022 and makes targeted reforms. Members of the ICSC Environmental Subcommittee were actively involved in the development and ultimate passage of this legislation by the committee. 

The measure will next go before the full House for consideration.

Brownfields are properties where contamination is suspected but unknown. Fear of environmental liability at these sites causes developers to look outside cities, towns, and communities to previously undeveloped properties for new opportunities. This leaves many of these brownfields untouched, driving down property values, contributing to blight and providing no tax revenue to local communities. Benefits of having these sites redeveloped include increased property values between 5 and 15.2 percent, and measurable environmental benefits.

Commercial real estate developers have remediated these properties and enhanced local economic vitality, often located in severely underserved areas in cities and towns across America. ICSC is encouraged that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee adopted the recommendations of the ICSC Environmental Subcommittee, which advocated for the increased level of grants for direct remediation that will be made available under this legislation, as well as the added flexibility provided to grant recipients. Giving local communities the flexibility to apply grant funds to other sites within their jurisdiction is a common sense and welcome change.

The ICSC Environmental Subcommittee met in June to discuss the development and ultimate passage of this legislation by the House Committee.