Federal Brownfields Spending Expanded: Build Act Passed as Part of FY 2018 Omnibus Spending Package

From Vita Nuova member Kathy Castanga – 4/25/18

The Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development (BUILD) Act of 2018 was enacted as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (Omnibus Package) passed by Congress on March 23, 2018.  The BUILD Act reauthorizes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Program. Originally established in 2002 under the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, the BUILD Act reauthorizes and includes a number of improvements to the program which have long been sought by communities throughout the country.

The major changes to the program include:

  • Expands program eligibility to nonprofit organizations both 501(c)(3)’s and “Qualified Community Development Entities” for brownfields grants.
  • Expands program eligibility for sites acquired before January 11, 2002.
  • Clarifies the rights and responsibilities of tenants claiming bona fide prospective purchaser (BFPP) defense from CERCLA liability.
  • Incentivizes brownfields sites adjacent to a body of water or a federally designated floodplain – (Bluefields).
  • Incentivizes brownfields sites redeveloped for renewable energy or energy efficiency improvements.
  • Increases funding for cleanup grants from $200,000 to $500,000 ($650,000 with a waiver).
  • Enables multipurpose grants of up to $1 million to carry out inventory, assessment, cleanup planning and remediation activities.
  • Enables up to 5% of a grant to be used for administrative costs.
  • Expands liability relief for state and local government owned properties taken by involuntary acquisition or through seizure or in connection with law enforcement activity.
  • Creates a technical assistance grant program ($1.7 million per year) for small and disadvantaged communities in carrying out the redevelopment of brownfields.
  • Provides $50 million per year for state response program funding through 2023.
  • Appropriates $200 million for Brownfields funding for each of fiscal years 2019-2023.

Overall, the BUILD Act significantly increases the funding and ability to participate in the Brownfields Program; incentivizes the redevelopment of contaminated properties adjacent to water or those which will promote renewable energy; and expands the exceptions from liability under CERCLA.

For more information on the BUILD Act, go to https://smartgrowthamerica.org/app/uploads/2018/03/03.22.18-%E2%80%93-FY-2018-Omnibus-Analysis.pdf