Administrator Pruitt to Push for Continued Brownfields Funding

Pruitt tells mayors on Capitol Hill that he's pushing back on cutting Brownfields funding and supports water infrastructure funding and grants.

When industrial companies close, they often just walk away from polluted physical locations, leaving cities to figure out what's next for those tainted grounds. Since 1995, many communities have sought brownfields funding through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clean up these sites and put them back into productive use.

But President Donald Trump's proposed budget slashes the program -- along with general EPA grant cuts of 30 percent.

If you look at current budget proposals, they don’t add up and we have yet to see much detail on how this work will be accomplished. As Washington talks about proposed spending increases, we know the only place cuts can come from are the things that we use to actually protect our cities and residents," said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in a prepared statement.

Last week a bipartisan delegation of mayors pressed lawmakers on Capitol Hill during their Winter Leadership Meeting in Washington D.C. to urge continued Federal support for infrastructure and programs like Brownfields facing cancellation. The mayors in attendance also came to talk about immigration, public safety and repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and most meetings with lawmakers -- like House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Bill Shuster, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao -- were closed.

However, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt joined the delegation at the Capitol Hilton Hotel to let them know he is recommending that brownfields funding be spared because he thinks that has been one of EPA's successful programs.

Last month, New Bedford, Mass., Mayor Jonathan Mitchell testified before the House Subcommittee on Environment about what he calls a "cornerstone" of economic development and jobs creation. He urged a reauthorization of the Brownfields Law, which provides grants for cleaning up abandoned industrial sites nationwide.

That message is resonating with Pruitt. He indicated that brownfields funding is a priority along with identifying the hurdles facing 1,300 Superfund sites, setting benchmarks on ground-level ozone reduction and working with mayors on water infrastructure.

In a recorded video from the brief meeting, Pruitt said:

I want you to know that with the White House -- and also with Congress -- I am communicating a message that the Brownfields Program, the Superfund Program, water infrastructure, [Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act] grants, State Revolving Funds are essential to protect," adding that he wants mayors to share brownfields success stories with him so he can be sure to share them.

But former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said Pruitt’s support for Superfund and Brownfields programs are hardly surprising because they are some of the most popular EPA funding programs, according to the Washington Post. She said she is far more concerned about the other cuts to the agency in what she described as a "frontal attack."

Do you have brownfields funding success stories? Please send them to Pruitt:

Access EPA Administrator Pruitt's contact information.

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