Senate Votes to Clean-Up Polluted Properties, Carper Co-Sponsors Bill that Helps Decontaminate Properties in all Three DE Counties DEDO Director John Wik Praises Bill as ‘Help DelawAre Needs’
WASHINGTON, DC – The clean-up of contaminated properties in each of Delaware’s counties received a boost today by the Senate’s passage of the Brownfield Revitalization Act. Senator Tom Carper was an original co-sponsor of the legislation and worked to secure the bipartisan support it received in final passage. John D. Wik, Director of the Delaware Economic Development Office, praised the bill for its potential to enhance Brownfield cleanup in each of Delaware’s counties. “What we have before us today is a Brownfield bill that moves the EPA’s existing program a significant step forward. This bill protects the environment, encourages businesses to reuse these sites, and in my opinion, makes sense for Delaware,” Carper said. The Revitalization Act assists the state and local communities in their efforts to cleanup abandoned, lightly contaminated industrial sites. The bill authorizes $200 million a year in additional funding for this cleanup and creates business incentives for the redevelopment of these sites. Speaking from the Senate floor, Carper used the revitalization of Delaware’s riverfronts as an example of the economic growth this cleanup can produce. “Where once festered industrial wastelands, now grow beautiful riverfronts that are helping to drive the economic revitalization of once desolate areas,” Carper said. “This bill, when enacted, will give our state a boost in turning fields of decay into economic engines for growth.” The cleanup of brownfield sites protects public health and promotes private investment in the surrounding community. Delaware’s Economic Development Office has been coordinating brownfields clean-up and believes the bill, when enacted, will be a real help in their efforts. “This is an excellent opportunity for Delaware to obtain additional financial support for redevelopment of Brownfield sites,” said Wik. “The Brownfield Revitalization Act is a step in the right direction to maximize the potential opportunity for using former industrial sites in the First State.” Floor statement on the Brownfields Revitalization and Restoration Act of 2001 – S-350 Mr. President, I would like to take just a few minutes today to express my support for S. 350, The Brownfields Revitalization and Restoration Act. The bill, which I hope we will vote to pass today, represents years of discussion, countless hearings, and many compromises. We have heard from others about the balance this bill represents, and the compromises it contains. What I would like to focus on however, is what this bill means back in Delaware, and in states around the country where it can make a real and significant impact. This morning, I caught a train to Washington, as I often do, and as the train pulled out of the Wilmington train station heading South, I looked out my left window at an area where during World War II, over 10,000 men and women worked to build the ships that helped win World War II. At shipyards along the Christina Riverfront, they built hundreds of destroyer escorts, troop landing ships, and other vessels important to the war effort. The day the war ended we had 10,000 people working there but a few years later, with no new ships needed, the riverfront was virtually silent. That area went to seed and for almost forty-five years; it decayed slowly. Little was done with the abandoned shipyards and industrial sites. To be honest, as Delaware’s Congressman during the late 1980’s, as I rode that same Amtrak train to work, I looked out the window and thought to myself that it looked awful. I don’t think I knew then what a brownfield site was, but as it turns out, that is what I was looking at. Several years ago the Delaware legislature passed and as Governor I signed brownfields legislation which we used to go in there and to turn the riverfront into a place that today is a jewel welcoming people to our state. Today, we have parks, we have museums, restaurants, shops, and the winningest minor league baseball team in America which play baseball there. In short, we have turned a lonely, desolate wasteland into quite a lovely river front redevelopment. Other states, with the passage of this bill, will be able to take the Delaware model and return valuable land to productive use. I want to thank both Senator Chafee and Senator Boxer, who lead the subcommittee which developed this bill, as well as Senator Smith and Reid who have been working on this for a while. As a freshman Senator who joined this debate late in the game, they were kind enough to work with me, teach me about this issue, and listen to my concerns. My good friend Senator Voinovich, who chaired the NGA when I was vice chairman, and who worked with me on this bill, was instrumental in making a good bill even better. I am pleased to stand here and tell my colleagues, and my fellow governors, that included in the final version of this bill is a provision which will insure the State’s certification of brownfield cleanup will result in revitalization of thousands of abandoned or underutilized sites across the country. I would like to thank Senator Voinovich for his work on this, as well as the other members of the committee who worked very hard over the past months and didn’t pass up the opportunity to make this bill the best it can be. What we have before us today is a Brownfields bill that moves the EPA’s existing program a significant step forward. This bill protects the environment, encourages businesses to reuse these sites, and in my opinion, makes sense. I urge my colleagues to vote in support of this bill. Thank you, and I yield the floor.