Congressman Greg Walden

Representing the 2nd District of Oregon

Greg Walden on Brownfields reauthorization: “This is a winning scenario for everybody involved”

November 30, 2017
Press Release

Greg Walden on Brownfields reauthorization: “This is a winning scenario for everybody involved”

Brownfields Program successfully used in Oregon to clean up old industrial sites for economic use

Click here or on the image above to view Walden’s speech on the House floor

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Greg Walden, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, helped shepherd the Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment and Reauthorization Act through the House of Representatives with a strong bipartisan vote. During a speech on the House floor, Walden highlighted how the Brownfields Program has spurred economic growth by cleaning up old industrial sites in Oregon and throughout the country, and putting them back into productive service. 

“Since the Brownfields Program’s inception, more than 27,000 contaminated sites have been remediated, allowing communities across the country to return them to productive use,” said Walden. “Cleaning up brownfield sites increases local tax bases; facilitates job growth and wage increases; promotes the development of new infrastructure; and improves and protects the environment. Over 129,000 jobs have been leveraged because of the Brownfields Program and almost 70,000 acres have been made ready for reuse.

“The Brownfields Program has leveraged over $24 billion, a significant return on the federal investment in the program. A 2017 study concluded that cleaning up brownfield properties led to residential property value increases of up to fifteen percent within a mile of brownfield sites. Another study found an estimated twenty-nine to ninety-seven million dollars in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup -- which is two to seven times more than the $12.4 million that EPA contributed to the cleanup of those Brownfields.”

Walden noted that Oregon has been particularly successful using the Brownfields Program to put old industrial sites back in to productive service. Standing beside a before-and-after picture of the Old Mill District in Bend -- one of Oregon’s most successful Brownfields projects -- Walden stressed the importance of strengthening the program to ensure this success continues.

“Bend isn’t alone. Last year in The Dalles, Google broke ground on an expansion to their data center on 26 acres of former mill land that was cleaned up under this program -- a $600 million investment expected to create 50 new jobs,” said Walden. “Also, in my hometown of Hood River, the Port of Hood River just finished a brownfields cleanup of another former mill site, opening over 12 acres of land for future business opportunities in the area. 

And in southern Oregon, the city of Grants Pass is in the early stages of working towards the same goal. They've successfully secured assistance through the Brownfields Program to begin planning the cleanup and redevelopment of the old Spalding Mill industrial site.”

Before-and-after photo of the Old Mill District in Bend, Oregon, one of Oregon’s most successful Brownfields Program projects. Picture courtesy of Old Mill District

Brownfields sites are often abandoned, closed or under-utilized industrial or commercial facilities. Examples of these include abandoned factories, closed lumber mills, a closed commercial building or warehouse, or a former dry-cleaning establishment or gas station. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there are more than 450,000 brownfields across the United States and each of these sites has the potential to encourage economic development in the local community.

The Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act seeks to reauthorize and make improvements to EPA’s Brownfields Program while encouraging EPA, states, and local governments to work together to redevelop properties, create jobs, and provide for economic development.

“At the end of the day, this bipartisan legislation creates jobs, promotes infrastructure and economic development, and cleans up our communities. This is a winning scenario for everybody involved,” said Walden.

The Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act passed the House on a 409-8 vote today, and now awaits action in the Senate. For complete background on this legislation, please click HERE.