Sen. Tom Udall’s bill to modernize the federal brownfields program, which helps communities revitalize blighted tracts of land, cleared the Environment and Public Works Committee Thursday.
The bill – the Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development Act – received bipartisan support and now goes to the full Senate for approval.
“From Albuquerque’s Sawmill neighborhood to the Santa Fe Railyard and Route 66 – New Mexico communities have converted liabilities into vibrant developments through the Brownfields Program,” Udall said. “By updating the program, we can keep up the great work in New Mexico and throughout the country, and today’s bipartisan vote in committee is a great step toward helping more communities clean up neighborhoods and spearhead economic development.”
Udall chairman of the committee’s subcommittee on Superfund, Toxics and Environmental Health.
In addition to the Sawmill neighborhood and the Santa Fe Railyard, other New Mexico converted brownfields include the Hotel Andaluz, the Sandoval County Judicial Complex, the Old Albuquerque High School, and the Luna Lodge on Route 66.
Last year, Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley came to Washington to testify in favor or Udall’s bill.
“In Bernalillo County, this (EPA brownfields) program has been instrumental in the cleanup of industrial sites and landfills, and the creation of more open space, much-needed regional parks, affordable housing and mixed-use developments,” O’Malley testified.
Brownfields are defined by the EPA as “real property, the expansion, redevelopment or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.”
Udall’s BUILD Act would improve key elements of the program by increasing the limit for cleanup grants and expanding eligibility for certain publicly owned sites and nonprofit organizations.