INHOFE PRAISES OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE REPORT ON BROWNFIELDS PROGRAM
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today praised the Oklahoma Department of Commerce (DEQ) for its new study titled “The Economic Impact of Oklahoma’s Brownfields Program” released in May 2015.
“The Oklahoma Department of Commerce has produced an excellent study highlighting the economic benefits of the Oklahoma Brownfields program and its contribution to our state,” Inhofe said. "Over the past few years, the Oklahoma Brownfields program has helped with the clean-up of postindustrial sites near downtown Tulsa, which in turn made room for the new BOK Center, and in Oklahoma City, the program allowed for the clean up of the historic Skirvin hotel, which had been plagued by mold and contaminants, leaving it abandoned for years. As chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, one of my top priorities has been to reauthorize the federal Brownfields program, which provides vital funding and assistance for local Brownfield cleanups. My current bipartisan legislation will make several overdue improvements to the Brownfields law, to include providing technical assistance grants to small communities, Indian tribes, rural areas, and disadvantaged areas and will provide greater certainty for long-term cleanups of more complex projects. As this report shows, the federal and state Brownfields programs are conservative programs. They leverage public finances with private investors to clean up contaminated areas that would otherwise be abandoned so they can redeveloped into something productive and profitable. I appreciate the agency for taking time to study and display the economic gains and numerous job-creating opportunities that Brownfield cleanups have helped to make possible in our state.”
On June 2, 2015, Inhofe along with Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), ranking member on the EPW Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight, led a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing S. 1479, the Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development Act (BUILD Act). The legislation would make several enhancements to the program, including (1) prioritizing technical assistance grants for Brownfields projects in small communities, Indian tribes, rural areas, and disadvantaged areas, (2) establishing a program to provide grants to locate clean energy projects at Brownfields sites, and (3) expanding funding eligibility for governmental entities that did not cause or contribute to the contamination.
On May 18, the BUILD Act was reported out of the EPW Committee by voice vote.
A similar version of the BUILD Act was introduced by the late-Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), along with Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Inhofe, and Crapo in the 113th Congress and was reported by the EPW committee by voice vote on April 3, 2014.