Let me congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, along with Senators Smith, Reid and Boxer, for introducing this bill and scheduling it for a hearing so early in the congressional session. I am very hopeful that with your leadership, and the broad bipartisan support this legislation enjoys, we will be able to quickly enact this legislation in the 107th Congress.
While welcoming all those testifying today, I also would like to especially recognize and welcome Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Whitman and Mayor Christian Bollwage, the Mayor of Elizabeth, New Jersey, who will appear on behalf of the United States Conference of Mayors. Governor -- now Administrator - Whitman, it's great to see you here in your new capacity. I am sure you were pleased that your appointment won such broad support. And Mayor Bollwage, I'm grateful for your willingness to join us today. You've been a terrific leader on this issue. And I know that you and Adminstrator Whitman will be able to help the Committee and public understand the importance of this legislation, and the success of New Jersey's own Brownfield's program.
Mr. Chairman, I am proud to be a cosponsor of your bill, and continue the efforts of my predecessor, Senator Frank Lautenberg, who sponsored a similar bill in the previous Congress. Like Senator Lautenberg, I recognize the tremendous value of cleaning up contaminated industrial sites that lay under-utilized or even abandoned, largely because of the difficulty, risks, and expense of cleaning them up.
When developers now look at these sites, Mr. Chairman, they see a hornet's nest of problems. But when most of us look at them, we see opportunities. Many of these brownfield sites are located in economically depressed urban areas. Cleaning them up can spur economic development, create jobs and bring in additional tax revenue.
Elizabeth, New Jersey has a prime example of this. There, thanks to a similar initiative, a municipal landfill was transformed into a thriving retail shopping center that now employs over 5000 people.
Of course, cleaning up brownfields does more than help the economy. Often, it helps the environment and removes highly dangerous contaminants. In addition, by cleaning up sites in our urban areas, it redirects development away from our remaining open space, and reduces the many problems associated with sprawl.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, despite the broad benefits of cleaning up brownfields, the private sector often finds it unattractive or unrealistic to take on the task. Nor is it easy for states and local governments. That's why this legislation is so important. By providing needed funding, and placing reasonable limits on developers' liability, it should encourage the development of many brownfields and the revitalization of depressed areas around our nation. It's a win-win initiative.
So, Mr. Chairman, I again congratulate you for your leadership, and I look forward to working with you to secure the enactment of this legislation as soon as possible.