Cleaning Up The Past

   House Chair of the Commerce Committee, Rep. Jeff Berger (D-Waterbury) today announced House passage of a bill that he called “the biggest job generator in our state in many years.” House Bill 6526 facilitates and funds the assessment, clean up and re-use of “brownfields” – contaminated and often long-abandoned properties that can be remediated and turned into productive sites for economic development, open space or other public uses.

   “As Chairman of the Commerce Committee I have worked to address the problem of brownfields across the state. Waterbury, in particular, has several remediation projects underway and I am pleased we have combined that with the funding necessary to move them forward,” Rep. Berger said.  “This is one of the single most important bills to pass in that effort and combines with a commitment from Governor Malloy and the General Assembly for millions in remediation funding.”

   The 2012/13 biennial budget approved by Democrats in the legislature and signed by Governor Dannel Malloy includes $25 million each year for brownfield remediation.

   “Anytime we can redevelop a brownfield, everybody’s a winner,” said Sen. Gary D. LeBeau (D-East Hartford), co-chairman of the Commerce Committee. “Cities and urban areas are winners because these projects breathe new life into them in the form of jobs and real estate development. At the same time, we are not destroying our greenfields, and that preserves the rural character and quality of life that we value so much here in Connecticut.” 

  Rep. Berger stated the bill, approved with both Democrat and Republican votes, is indicative of the bipartisan approach Democrats have taken toward economic development and brownfield remediation.

   “This bill is important for stimulating the job growth, adding long dormant properties to the tax rolls and spurring a sluggish economy,” Rep. Berger added.  “It is also important for us to continue our aggressive work in cleaning contaminated sites, creating jobs, and increasing both state and local revenue.”

   Rep. Berger also noted the legislation is part of a larger picture. The General Assembly has a history of protecting land through both open space acquisitions, farmland preservation and brownfield remediation.

  “This bill demonstrates that we can pursue environmental protection and economic development together,” Commissioner of Environmental Protection Daniel C. Esty said. “I salute the legislative leaders for putting a package together that accomplishes these goals.”

   The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

   Rep. Berger serves the 73rd General Assembly District and is currently in his fourth term.  He is Chairman of the Commerce Committee and serves on the Finance, Revenue & Bonding and the Judiciary Committee.