April 25, 2001

Big Win for the Nation's Mayors as Senate Approves Brownfields Bill (S. 350), 99-0
A Top Conference Priority Takes a Major Step Toward Passage
in the First 100 Days of New Administration

Today Mayors across the nation gave high praise to the United States Senate, which unanimously approved the "Brownfields Revitalization and Environmental Restoration Act of 2001" (S. 350) on a decisive 99-0 vote. This bipartisan legislation won approval by the Senate with strong backing from President Bush, the nation's mayors and others.

"The Mayors believe this legislation can dramatically improve the nation's efforts to recycle abandoned and the underutilized brownfield sites, providing new incentives and statutory reforms to speed the assessment, cleanup and redevelopment of these properties," said Conference President and Boise Mayor H. Brent Coles. (Brownfields are abandoned or underutilized properties where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.)

S.350 provides: 1) $150 million annually over the next five years in funding to cities and other local governments to support assessment and cleanup efforts; 2) an additional $50 million annually over the next five years in funding to assist the cleanup of petroleum contaminated sites; 3) reforms that protect innocent parties from Superfund liability (e.g. developers, businesses, financial institutions, public agencies and others who take title, cleanup and redevelop brownfield sites); and 4) more certainty on the authority of the states to make decisions affecting the cleanup of these sites.

"We pleased that one of our top priorities has successfully cleared its first hurdle within the first 100 days of this new Administration. This legislation will incentivize private developers to redevelop brownfields," said Mayor Morial. "Our Mayors have worked to get this land, this precious soil, returned to commerce. But without a federal partnership in place, we cannot do it. Now finally, the Beltway gridlock we've faced on this issue for so long is broken, and we're poised to do it."

In comments on the action, Conference Advisory Board Chair and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino said, "I applaud the Senate's action today on this brownfields legislation. The funding from this bill is critical for both economic development and environmental remediation. It will result in the creation of jobs at all phases - remediation, construction and permanent jobs, while cleaning up core areas in our communities."

Elizabeth, NJ Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, who leads the Conference's Task Force on Brownfields, said, "Mayors have worked hard to make this a priority in Congress. This overwhelming vote should create the impetus for the House to move forward very quickly on this legislation."

During debate on S. 350, Senator Lincoln Chafee (RI), a former mayor and the author of the legislation took the floor and said, "When I was mayor, my fax machine constantly fed me faxes from The U. S. Conference of Mayors on brownfields."

"We've come a long way since this issue was first brought to our membership's attention in 1994," said Cochran in his statement. "This is a great start in making this legislation an early accomplishment of this Congress." In addition to praising Senator Chafee and other Senators for their leadership on S. 350, Cochran also expressed special thanks on behalf of the Mayors to President Bush, who early in his Administration endorsed the brownfields bill, and to EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, who in March joined Mayors at a press conference to underscore the Administration's support for S. 350.

The Mayors' next action item on this important legislation is to press the House of Representatives to act with the bipartisanship that characterized the Senate work on this issue.

As S. 350 was being approved, 70 Senators had already signed on as cosponsors. The only Senator not voting today was Senator Tim Hutchinson (AR), a cosponsor of S. 350, who was with President Bush in Arkansas.

CONTACT: Kevin McCarty or Jubi Headley, (202) 293-7330

The United States Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,100 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.


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