Senate, DEP Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of The Land Recycling Program With Video
The Senate Wednesday adopted a resolution recognizing the 20th anniversary of Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program to coincide with the PA Brownfields Conference being held in Erie this week. The resolution was sponsored by Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
Hundreds of redevelopment and remediation experts from across the northeast gathered at the Erie Bayfront Convention Center May 13 for the 2015 Pennsylvania Brownfields Conference.
Acting DEP Secretary John Quigley delivered the keynote address, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the signing of Acts 2, 3, and 4, the cornerstone statutes of Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program.
Quigley also unveiled a new video, The 20th Anniversary of Pennsylvania's Land Recycling Program, which honors the legacy of land recycling in Pennsylvania.
The text of the Senate resolution follows--
Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the passage and signing into law of Acts 2, 3 and 4 creating Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling “Brownfields” Program on May 19, 1995.
WHEREAS, Pennsylvania had thousands of abandoned, neglected and unwanted industrial, manufacturing and commercial properties across the Commonwealth with real and unknown environmental and public health hazards which were not being cleaned up and made safe;
WHEREAS, Private individuals, local governments, economic development agencies and commercial landowners faced with the challenge of using these sites for valuable economic purposes, eliminating these hazards and promoting the productive reuse of these properties found existing state laws and regulations did not set consistent, uniform environmental cleanup standards, and did not offer a clear process for reviewing and approving cleanup plans;
WHEREAS, Banks, other financial institutions and economic development agencies were reluctant and often did not even consider providing funding for the voluntary environmental cleanup and reuse of industrial and manufacturing sites because of the lack of clear standards and environmental liability concerns;
WHEREAS, The lack of a voluntary cleanup and reuse program resulted in an eroding tax base and a loss of jobs and economic opportunity in cities and communities all over the Commonwealth;
WHEREAS, Farmland and open space was lost as development pushed into greenfield areas, rather than having growing businesses reuse existing commercial properties in already developed areas with the infrastructure needed to support commercial reuse;
WHEREAS, The Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee saw action was needed to attract private investment to voluntarily clean up these environmental hazards and initiated a consensus building process on May 22, 1992, with the introduction of Senate Bill 1734, Session of 1992, with eight sponsors;
WHEREAS, In the next session on April 22, 1993, an improved draft, Senate Bill 972, was introduced with 46 sponsors, and the consensus building continued utilizing both the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy and Community and Economic Development committees during a tumultuous period of time when the majority of the Senate moved from one party to the other and the committee responsibilities moved from one set of chairman to another;
WHEREAS, Despite the political changes in the Senate, the two committees worked in a bipartisan way holding eight public hearings, hearing from 84 witnesses, and solicited input by sending copies of five separate proposals to more than 2,000 interested citizens;
WHEREAS, Senate Bill 972 was passed by vote of 44 to 2 and sent to the House of Representatives and was considered in the House Conservation Committee and reported it out of committee on October 5, 1994, but went no further.
WHEREAS, Senate Bills 1, 11 and 12, were introduced in the next Session on January 17, 1995, and were passed by the Senate on March 1, 1995 by a vote of 46 to 0, and passed by the House of Representatives, after amendment, on May 2, 1995 by a vote of 163 to 35. The House amendments were concurred in by the Senate on May 3, 1995 by a vote of 50-0, after which the bills were presented to the newly-elected Governor, Tom Ridge, who signed them on May 19, 1995.
WHEREAS, The Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Act (Senate Bill 1, Act 2) established uniform cleanup standards, standardized review procedures for cleanup plans, and released property owners from further cleanup liability once strict environmental standards were met;
WHEREAS, The Economic Development Agency, Fiduciary and Lender Environmental Liability Protection Act (Senate Bill 11, Act 3) provided protection from cleanup liability for banks, economic development and other agencies involved in promoting the reuse of industrial and commercial properties through financing;
WHEREAS, The Industrial Sites Environmental Assessment Act (Senate Bill 12, Act 4) provided funding to municipalities, economic development agencies and similar groups for environmental site assessments and performance-based remediation loans and grants for cleaning up environmental and public health hazards;
WHEREAS, Acts 2, 3 and 4 of 1995 created a model for promoting voluntary environmental cleanups used by more than 40 other states, the federal government and other countries and created a whole new “Brownfields Reuse” industry;
WHEREAS, By setting clear standards, a clear process for having cleanup plans reviewed and approved and releasing agencies and property owners of further liability when the cleanup standards are met prompted hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment to remediate environmental hazards and put these sites back into productive use;
WHEREAS, Since enactment of Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program, 5,466 commercial and industrial sites in every county in the Commonwealth have been cleaned up and made safe for reuse, with another 1,251 sites now moving through the Program;
WHEREAS, Sites reused under the Program have resulted in the creation or retention of tens of thousands of jobs that otherwise would have been lost or created somewhere else;
WHEREAS, Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program has been recognized for its innovation and accomplishment by its peers in state government, the federal government, by environmental professionals and academic institutions, including: the Ford Foundation and Harvard University with the Innovations in Government and the Best Innovations in American Government Award Over The Past 15 Years; the Council of State Governments Innovations Award; the National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices; the National Association of Environmental Professionals National Environmental Excellence Award for Environmental Management; the American Legislative Exchange Council Model Legislation Program; and by President George W. Bush who signed the national brownfields into law in Pennsylvania;
RESOLVED, That the Senate recognize the contribution Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program has made over the past 20 years to protecting the environment, eliminating health hazards and to the building Pennsylvania’s economy by creating economic opportunity where there was none before;
RESOLVED, That the Senate extend its congratulations to the members of the Senate and House for their leadership in passing Acts 2, 3 and 4 in 1995, to Governor Tom Ridge for signing the bills into law and to the leadership and employees of the Department of Environmental Protection for making the program work;
RESOLVED, That when adopted, a copy of this resolution be provided to the sponsors and co-sponsors of bills which became Acts 2, 3 and 4, to Governor Tom Ridge and to the Department of Environmental Protection involved in implementing the Program.
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