Senate Hearing Bollwage Conveys
Mayors' Support for Bipartisan Brownfields
By Kevin McCarty
Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage told a Senate environmental panel June 29th that the nation's mayors support a pending Senate brownfields legislative package. "I am pleased to appear before you today to convey the Conference's support for the bipartisan brownfields proposal before you Ñ the 'Brownfields Revitalization and Environmental Restoration Act of 2000' (S. 2700)," he said.
Bollwage also emphasized that the Conference's membership had recently adopted a specific resolution in support of S. 2700, during its 68th recent Annual Meeting in Seattle.
"This legislation offers the best opportunity for successful legislative action in the Senate this year, and hopefully final enactment of legislation this year," Bollwage told the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Control and Risk Assessment.
Earlier this year, Bollwage, who co-chairs the Conference's Brownfields Task Force, had appeared before the same Senate panel to urge its members to craft a bipartisan legislative agreement. "It seems that it was just the other day that I appeared before you and urged this panel to develop a bipartisan agreement. And, you have done just that and we applaud your efforts in crafting S. 2700," he said.
Mayors' Support Key Elements
In discussing the merits of the bipartisan proposal, Bollwage told the Senators that "we believe the legislation before you is the right way to get started on these issues. It delivers much needed financial tools and it sets forth a policy framework that we believe will help further local and state efforts to recycle America's land."
He again reiterated the mayors' call for action on a federal brownfields initiative, stating, "And, we believe that the time has come to enact these changes into federal law. Lets begin by reporting this legislation promptly to the Senate and then take this up on the Senate floor."
Provisions of S. 2700
Bollwage's statement detailed why the mayors support the pending legislation. In his oral remarks, Bollwage said, "First, this legislation addresses the three key issues Ð resources, liability relief and further clarification of state and federal roles at brownfields sites Ð we identified in our most recent statement before this Committee."
He also noted that legislation has secured broad public and private support. "I would just like to underscore the point that S. 2700 addresses these issues in a manner that has garnered support from both public and private sector interests. And, it enjoys bipartisan support. These are the thresholds that matter in legislating," Bollwage said.
He concluded his remarks by praising the leadership of the Committee, whose four top leaders Ð Senators Bob Smith (NH), Max Baucus (MT), Lincoln Chafee (RI) and Frank Lautenberg (NJ) Ð had originally sponsored S. 2700, which was introduced in early June. "It is time to move the nation to the next level on brownfields reuse. Congressional action on these important issues is long overdue," he said.
Des Moines Mayor Preston A. Daniels also appeared before the panel to provide testimony on behalf of the National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals, who told the panel that "brownfields redevelopment keeps our community strong and avoids moving out into our precious farmland." He also indicated the group's support for S. 2700.
In his testimony before the panel, U.S. EPA Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response Timothy Fields indicated the Administration's support for the bipartisan S. 2700.
46 Senators Have Cosponsored S. 2700
As U.S. Mayor goes to press, 42 Senators have already joined on as cosponsors of S. 2700 in the five weeks following its introduction, indicating the broad base of support within the Senate for the bipartisan legislative package.
Mayors have been pressing Senators since the Conference's Annual Meeting concluded June 14th to urge co-sponsorship of the legislation. Numerous national private and public interest organizations are now supporting S. 2700.