(Extensions of Remarks - September 13, 2012)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1521-E1522]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                     HON. LOUISE McINTOSH SLAUGHTER

                              of new york

                    in the house of representatives

                      Thursday, September 13, 2012

  Ms. SLAUGHTER. Mr. Speaker, today I am proud to reintroduce the 
Waterfront Brownfields Revitalization Act. This bill will authorize a 
much needed grant program to assist communities that are overcoming the 
unique challenges of waterfront brownfields and fostering innovative 
approaches to remediation.
  America's industrial heritage was established along the banks of its 
rivers, lakes and coasts. Our nation's vast and interconnected natural 
water system helped provide the power that fueled our rise to 
international prominence, and allowed us to move our manufactured goods 
efficiently to all corners of the country. However, that legacy also 
includes many decades of environmental contamination on the waterfront. 
Abandoned factories, dilapidated mills and underutilized ports can be 
found along the shores of many metropolitan areas. As localities seek 
to reconnect with their waterfronts and revitalize their downtowns, 
brownfield barriers threaten to derail community efforts to create 
jobs, promote recreational opportunities, restore the ecology, increase 
tourism, and grow their tax base.
  Waterfront brownfields present challenges beyond typical 
environmental assessment and cleanup projects. Hydrology, water 
quality, wetlands, endangered species, habitat, dredged materials, 
flooding, environmental infrastructure, navigation, and other 
considerations must be carefully addressed so as not to exacerbate 
existing site contamination. Typically, waterfront brownfields require 
the involvement of multiple governmental agencies. As such, waterfront 
brownfields require special attention and resources to overcome their 
larger hurdles.
  In my own district, the City of Rochester, NY is currently working to 
revitalize its beautiful waterfront, while attempting to cope with the 
unique challenges that waterfront brownfields present. The city is 
undertaking a major community revitalization strategy to redevelop its 
port and waterfront area into a mixed use development, which will 
include housing, commercial, retail, and educational uses, enhanced 
recreation, new parks and open space, and improved public access to 
Lake Ontario, the Genesee River and the surrounding ecosystem. However, 
because the

[[Page E1522]]

Port of Rochester and surrounding waterways were used extensively for 
industrial purposes from the late 1800s into the first half of the 20th 
century, significant environmental remediation will be required prior 
to redevelopment.
  Mr. Speaker, Rochester is not alone in facing these types of 
complicated and expensive challenges to redevelopment. Cities all 
across the country are dealing with similar roadblocks as they try to 
engage corporate waterfront real estate into their redevelopment plans, 
from Yuma, AZ and Portland, OR in the west, to Savannah, GA, and 
Philadelphia, PA in the east, and almost everywhere in between where 
lakes and rivers exist.
  My bill recognizes that the federal government can be an effective 
partner to communities interested in reconnecting with their 
waterfronts. Specifically, this legislation would authorize the U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency to establish a waterfront brownfields 
pilot demonstration program to provide localities and other eligible 
entities with up to $500,000 to assess and cleanup waterfront 
brownfields. The bill would also establish an interagency taskforce on 
waterfront brownfields restoration to identify barriers and potential 
solutions to waterfront brownfields revitalization, and seek methods 
for federal interagency collaboration on such projects.
  As cities across the country struggle to thrive in a changing global 
economy, and as our communities work to rebuild local economies, it is 
imperative that Congress do all that it can to help these cities 
redevelop and succeed. Industrialization and manufacturing helped make 
this country the power that it is today and remediating the 
contamination left behind will revive areas in cities across the nation 
that once were feared to be lost. This legislation will give these 
cities the flexibility and support they need to redevelop in an 
environmentally safe way, and utilize their waterfront as an incredible 
economic asset. I urge my colleagues to show their support for these 
communities by supporting this bill.