Federal Brownfield Spending Expanded: BUILD Act included in Passage of FY18 Omnibus Package

On March 23, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 – more commonly called the omnibus package. The appropriations bill sets spending limits for government agencies and programs through the end of September, 2018. It also incorporated additional spending items.

The BUILD Act was included in the FY18 omnibus package, reauthorizing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields Program. Originally established in 2002 under the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act. However, the authorization for the program expired in 2006 even though Congress continued to annually allocate funds for the program.

Reauthorizing and improving the EPA Brownfields Program has been a priority ever since 2006 for brownfield advocates, and Minnesota Brownfields had continually supported the reauthorization of the program, meeting last year with members of Minnesota​’s​Congressional delegation ​regarding the EPA’s Brownfields Program​ impact in Minnesota​. The omnibus package passed last week contains a number of changes to the Brownfields Program long sought by communities throughout the country.

Here is a rundown from Smart Growth America on the major highlights of the BUILD Act that were included in the omnibus package:
Includes the Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development Act of 2018 (BUILD Act)

  • Reauthorizes the EPA’s Brownfields Program.
  • Expands program eligibility to nonprofit organizations, sites acquired before 2002, waterfront, and clean energy brownfield sites.
  • Increased funds for cleanup by up to $500,000 (up to $650,000 with a waiver)
  • Enables multipurpose grants of up to $1 million to carry out inventory, characterization, assessment, planning, and remediation activities.
  • Enables up to 5% of a grant to be used for administrative costs, not including investigation or identification of site, design and performance of response action, or monitoring of a natural response.
  • Provides $1,500,000 of small community technical assistance grants to both small and disadvantaged communities.
  • Provides $50 million per year for state response program funding through 2023.
NOTE: A small community is defined as “a community with a population of not more than 15,000 individuals,” while a disadvantaged one is defined as one “with an annual median household income that is less than 80% of the statewide annual median household income, as determined by the President based on the latest available decennial census.”
Maintains the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Despite President Trump’s proposed EPA cut, the bill maintains the agency and its funding at FY17 levels ($8.1 billion).
  • Appropriates $200 million for Brownfield cleanup funding for each of fiscal years 2019-2023.
Our thanks to ​Smart Growth America ​for their advocacy on behalf of the BUILD Act ​i​n the omnibus package. Minnesota Brownfields signed a​ ​letter of support of the BUILD Act​.Read Smart Growth America’s complete analysis of the omnibus package here. For more analysis and broader implications of the omnibus package, read Brownfield Listings’ report here.