S.1479 Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development Act of 2015

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Week ending July 8, 2016

S.1479 Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development Act of 2015


“Currently, more than 1,300 contaminated sites are on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund program’s National Priorities List. Brownfields are properties where the presence, or potential presence, of a hazardous substance complicates the expansion or redevelopment of the property. EPA estimates there are more than 450,000 brownfield sites across the country. Concern over CERCLA’s strict joint and several liability provisions is one factor that inhibited cleanup at brownfield sites where the extent of contamination may have been unknown and where there was no viable party available to assess the site or pay for the cleanup. Many states and local governments operate voluntary programs to promote the cleanup and reuse of these properties. EPA administratively created its brownfields initiative in 1993. Congress began appropriating money specifically for the EPA brownfields grant program in fiscal year 1997. However, concerns remained about potential liability under CERCLA for brownfields cleanups.”

“S. 1479 would reauthorize the EPA brownfields program at current funding levels through fiscal year 2018. The BUILD Act would improve the existing grant process by increasing the dollar limit for cleanup grants, authorizing EPA to make multi-purpose grants, expanding grant eligibility for certain publicly owned sites and non-profit organizations, authorizing grants for waterfront brownfields properties located adjacent to bodies of water or in floodplains and sites that can be used for clean energy development. The bill would also allow grant recipients to use a portion of grant funds for administrative costs, provide technical assistance grants to rural areas, small communities, and disadvantaged areas, and authorize up to $2 million per fiscal year in targeted funding grants to States.”

 (Section by section analysis)

(Full text of S. 1479 at congress.gov)

Sponsor:  Sen Inhofe, James M. [OK] (introduced 6/2/2015)      Cosponsors (11)

Status: Passed Senate /



On Passage:

House Amendments:

Motion to recommit:

Text of the motion:


On Passage: Agreed to by unanimous consent.

Procedural Actions:

Senate Amendments:


Cost to the taxpayers:  The bill authorizes the appropriation of $250 million annually through fiscal year 2018 for EPA to provide brownfields cleanup grants and programs, and would amend section 104(k) of CERCLA (42 U.S.C. 9604(k)) to improve the existing grant process by increasing the limit for cleanup grants, expanding grant eligibility, and prioritizing funding opportunities for certain brownfield sites, among other purposes. Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO estimates that implementing S. 1479 would cost $500 million over the 2017-2021 period.

Pay-as-you-go requirements:  Pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply to this legislation because enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues.

Regulatory and Other Impact: S. 1479 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.

Dynamic Scoring:   CBO estimates that enacting S. 1479 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.

Tax Complexity: 

Earmark Certification:

Duplication of programs:

Direct Rule-Making:

Advisory Committee Statement:

Budget Authority:

Constitutional Authority:   Assumed.


More Bill Information:


Section 1. Short title

Section 1 provides that the Act may be cited as the `Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development Act of 2015′ or the `BUILD Act.’


Section 2. Expanded eligibility for nonprofit organizations

Section 2 expands the eligibility for Brownfields grants for nonprofit organizations to include certain nonprofit organizations, limited liability corporations, limited partnerships, and community development entities.


Section 3. Multipurpose brownfield grants

Section 3 authorizes EPA to make multi-purpose grants up to $950,000, which provide greater certainty for long-term project financing. Limits all grants under this section to 15 percent of appropriations.


Section 4. Treatment of certain publicly owned brownfield sites

Section 4 allows government entities that acquired brownfields property prior to January 11, 2002, that do not qualify as a bona fide prospective purchaser under section 101(40) of CERCLA, to be eligible to receive grants so long as the government entity did not cause or contribute to a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance at the property.


Section 5. Increased funding for remediation grants

Section 5 increases funding limit for each site from the current $200,000 to $500,000 for each site. This section also authorizes the EPA to waive that limit, up to $650,000 for a site, based on the anticipated level of contamination, size, or ownership status of the site.


Section 6. Allowing administrative costs for grant recipients

Section 6 allows eligible entities to use up to 8 percent of their brownfield grant funding for administrative costs.


Section 7. Small or disadvantaged community technical assistance

Section 7 directs EPA to give priority in providing technical assistance grants of up to $7,500 to eligible entities in small communities, Indian tribes, rural areas, and disadvantaged areas. This section defines a `disadvantaged area’ as an area with an annual median household income that is less than 80 percent of the State-wide annual median household income, as determined by the latest available decennial census. This section also defines a `small community’ as a community with a population of not more than 15,000 individuals, as determined by the latest available decennial census. This section limits all grants under this section to $600,000.


Section 8. Waterfront brownfield grants

Section 8 directs EPA in providing brownfield grants to give consideration to waterfront brownfield sites located adjacent to bodies of water or federally designated floodplains.

Section 9. Clean energy brownfield grants

Section 9 requires EPA to establish a program to provide grants of up to $500,000 to eligible entities to locate clean energy projects at brownfield sites.


Section 10. Targeted funding for States

Section 10 authorizes EPA to use up to $2 million each fiscal year to provide targeted grants to States.

Section 11. Authorization of appropriations

Section 11 authorizes appropriations of $250 million annually through fiscal year 2018.


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