Newspaper article Roll Call

Anderson: Let's BUILD America Together

Newspaper article Roll Call

Anderson: Let's BUILD America Together

Article excerpt

There hasn"t been a lot of cooperation in Congress lately, but members on both sides of the aisle should agree on a piece of legislation introduced last week.

Sens. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J.; James M. Inhofe, R-Okla.; Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho; and Tom Udall, D-N.M., are championing the Brownfields Utilization, Investment and Local Development (BUILD) Act of 2013, which would reauthorize the Environmental Protection Agency"s Brownfields program. This successful program supports economic development, leverages private funds, adds value to neighborhoods and transforms revenue-draining abandoned property into tax-producing assets.

Today it is estimated that more than 450,000 sites - known as brownfields - in the United States are contaminated and abandoned. Nearly every community in the country has at least one such site. At an average of 6.5 acres each, that"s 4,570 square miles of contaminated land across the country. These properties blight neighborhoods, breed disinvestment and impose a cost on local governments and their taxpayers. Cleaning up these sites can be cost prohibitive for public agencies and private developers alike.

That"s why the BUILD Act is so important. If passed, the bill would help local governments and other entities to clean up and revitalize brownfield sites. When done correctly, brownfields restoration drives economic growth while giving local governments the flexibility to pursue the projects they need the most. Transforming a community"s financial sinkhole into a new business or residential building should be a no-brainer.

We can see brownfields successes in places like Oklahoma City, which received a federal loan to clean up and restore the Skirvin Hotel located downtown. A $717,000 loan from the Brownfields Revolving Loan Funds together with a Community Development Block Grant leveraged $56 million in total funds. …

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