Congress Passes Brownfields Bill

Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate passed H.R. 2869 and S. 350 yesterday by voice vote, providing a 5-year plan to give states up to $200 million per year to clean up brownfields sites across the country.

The bill also includes provisions sought by President Bush to exempt innocent developers from fiscal responsibility if toxic waste is found on a site after it is purchased. Federal Superfund law would still apply, however, putting fiscal responsibility on those who have dumped at the site. There also is a brownfields-to-parks provision to encourage communities to reclaim land for public use.

The House bill combines two measures -- a Senate bill authorizing money for the cleanups and tightening some regulations governing them, and a House bill exempting small businesses from liability under the Superfund law if they did not contribute a significant amount of waste.

Both House and Senate members finally agreed to include the Davis-Bacon wage law protecting workers, which is what stalled the legislation for several months.