Friday, December 1, 2017

Reauthorizing the Brownsfields Program

Washington, D.C. - December 1, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- The Brownfields program was created in 2002 by bipartisan legislation authored in the House by Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ, 6th) and the late Rep. Paul Gillmor of Ohio.

“By almost any metric, the Brownfields program has been a remarkable success,” said Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ, 6th). “Removing public health hazards by cleaning up contaminated sites is incredibly important for the surrounding communities. It is also a job creator that primes the pump for local investment and development. I’m proud we are working on a bipartisan basis to reauthorize a program that makes a real difference in New Jersey communities.”

The brownfields program assists communities with the cleanup of former industrial properties where redevelopment is complicated by the presence of environmental contamination. When the program was first authorized, there were an estimated 450,000 brownfields properties in the U.S. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 59,000 brownfields sites have already been revitalized.

Since 2002, New Jersey has received over $34 million in Brownfields grants. The vast majority of these funds, approximately $29 million, were awarded for assessment and cleanup efforts. Last year, Asbury Park received $400,000 in Brownfields Grants.

In 2009, the Department of Environmental Protection designated the Woodbridge Waterfront as a Brownfields Development Area. The Keasbey Woodbridge Redevelopment Zone includes the FedEx Ground Transportation Terminal & Warehouse, Wakefern Food Corp, Graydell, and a waterfront park that is currently under construction. Since 2010, EPA Region 2 has granted nearly $4 million to NJDEP to help revitalize brownfields in the state, including the Woodbridge waterfront.

When completed, the park will include approximately 30 acres of nature area with restored wetlands/uplands, more than 7,000 feet of walking trails circling the restored wetlands, 800 feet of boardwalk overlooking natural wetland areas, a viewing platform at the Raritan River, bird blinds for observing wildlife, educational signs, gathering spaces with seating, and bus parking.

On Thursday, the House voted 409-8 to pass H.R. 3017, the Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017. Paul D. Tonko (D-NY, 20th) was the lead Democrat advancing the bill, which would reauthorize and expand a previously-expired EPA program that cleans up and assesses sites polluted by former industrial activity, re-opening the door to economic development and environmental revitalization of these often economically vital sites.

“Today’s overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in the House breathed new life into the EPA’s Brownfields program, a vital economic redevelopment tool,” said Tonko. “Since 2002, the Brownfields program has helped put tens of thousands of acres of economically critical land back into circulation, supporting local economies and encouraging greater development in areas that were previously written off. In the process, more than 130,000 jobs have been created and $24 billion has been leveraged from federal investment. Local governments are realizing that through this program we can turn a liability into an opportunity. Today’s vote brings us a step closer to restoring more than 450,000 brownfield sites that still exist across the United States. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to advance this measure so it can be adopted into law without delay.”

Congressman Tonko, who serves as the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Environment, is an original cosponsor of the legislation. He worked to shepherd the bill through regular order with his Republican colleagues on the committee.

“There are more than 450,000 brownfields sites across the country, and many communities in our area have seen the positive results of the program,” said Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI, 7th). “It empowers states and local governments to take abandoned and vacant industrial sites and once again turn them into economic assets—all-the-while cleaning up the environment. With the help of this bipartisan bill, more Michigan communities will be able to revitalize these properties, encourage job growth, and bring about economic benefits for our communities.”

Congressman Walberg serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Education and the Workforce Committee as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions.

Greg Walden (R-OR, 2nd) noted that Oregon has been particularly successful using the Brownfields Program to put old industrial sites back in to productive service. Standing beside a before-and-after picture of the Old Mill District in Bend -- one of Oregon’s most successful Brownfields projects -- Walden stressed the importance of strengthening the program to ensure this success continues.

“Bend isn’t alone. Last year in The Dalles, Google broke ground on an expansion to their data center on 26 acres of former mill land that was cleaned up under this program -- a $600 million investment expected to create 50 new jobs,” said Walden. “Also, in my hometown of Hood River, the Port of Hood River just finished a brownfields cleanup of another former mill site, opening over 12 acres of land for future business opportunities in the area.

And in southern Oregon, the city of Grants Pass is in the early stages of working towards the same goal. They've successfully secured assistance through the Brownfields Program to begin planning the cleanup and redevelopment of the old Spalding Mill industrial site.”

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

North Korea can Hit the U.S.

In response to reports that North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that landed in the waters just off the coast of Japan, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY, 12th), who is an original cosponsor of the bipartisan Leverage to Enhance Effective Diplomacy Act of 2017 (HR 4027), released the following statement:

“This latest missile launch makes clear that North Korea is not feeling enough pressure to halt its development of nuclear and ballistic missiles. We need to double down on our efforts to bring North Korea to the negotiating table, while working with our allies in the region to levy all international sanctions – including cutting off oil exports to North Korea.

“The bipartisan Leverage to Enhance Effective Diplomacy Act of 2017 would strengthen our ability to block financial transactions between North Korea and those who continue to conduct prohibited business with that regime. U.S. military personnel and Korean leaders made clear in our meetings this summer that toughening sanctions enforcement against North Korea is a key step toward starting productive talks about denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. We need to use all diplomatic resources available to us to stabilize the region and defend our allies.”

Rep. Maloney joined Reps. Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) to introduce HR 4027, the Leverage to Enhance Effective Diplomacy Act of 2017. The Senate companion was introduced by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA).

This summer, Congresswoman Maloney joined Senator Markey’s Congressional delegation with Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Rep. Ann Wagner (MO-02) to Korea, Japan and China. After returning from this trip, she and Rep. Wagner hosted a bipartisan roundtable with Republic of Korea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Kang Kyung-wha. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined the bipartisan meeting.

Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH, 13th) released the following statement:

“North Korea has now successfully tested a missile that can hit anywhere in United States. Clearly, they are not intimidated by President Trump’s threats or boasts. America is less safe and more vulnerable to North Korea than the day President Trump took office. The President’s strategy -- if he even has one -- is not working. Foreign policy is not conducted on Twitter. Our allies need to know they can count on clear, level-headed American leadership. Laying out and executing a firm diplomatic strategy for North Korea is vital to assuring America and our allies that they can trust our steady hand.”

Opioid Abuse Deterrence, Research, and Recovery Act Introduced in the House

Washington, D.C. - December 1, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Congressman Jim Renacci (R-OH) and Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) introduced the Opioid Abuse Deterrence, Research, and Recovery Act—a bill to combat the rapidly spreading opioid crisis in America.

The opioid crisis has rocked the United States for 20 years since the 1990’s, and in that time, it’s become widely referred to as an epidemic—or a rapid acceleration of prescription and non-prescription drug abuse. The opioid epidemic has devastated families, neighborhoods, and communities across the country, with nearly 90 Americans dying per day from opioid related incidents. according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Law enforcement officials, physicians, and treatment centers across the country have done an admirable job attempting to contain the problem, but the epidemic has left these communities overwhelmed as they try to address the root causes of the problem and help rehabilitate those suffering from its damage.

Their bill seeks to an underlying cause of this issue by placing common-sense parameters, with appropriate flexibility, around initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain in order to limit the risks of addiction. Research conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) shows that the risks for addiction to prescription opioids dramatically increase around seven days after prescribed. This bill would place a limit on a patient’s first opioid prescription for acute-pain to no more than 7 days, except in cases of traumatic injury, chronic conditions, cancer-care, end of life care, palliative care, or based on a physician’s recommendation. The limitation to seven days would appropriately mitigate risks of abuse while also providing flexibility for doctors and patients to receive treatment where needed.

“Far too many men, women, and families across the country have suffered from the preventable spread of opioid abuse in America,” Rep. Meadows said. “The effects of this crisis are heartbreaking, and I know for me, they’re felt right at home. My state of North Carolina has 4 of the top 20 cities in America suffering from opioid abuse, with over 12,000 North Carolinians dying as a result of the epidemic since 1996. This has got to end—and we believe Congress has an opportunity to lead by helping establish standards that benefit doctors, patients, and treatment centers alike. I want to thank my colleague, Jim Renacci, as well, for his efforts. I’m grateful we could introduce this bill to begin a process of seriously addressing this crisis that has impacted so many.”

“Ohio is the number one state affected by this epidemic. In my district, alone coroners are running out of space, and now need to rent coolers to hold the overflow of body’s due to overdose,” Rep. Renacci said. However this isn’t a local crisis, it’s a national crisis. Evidence shows that more than 80% of individuals addicted to heroin started out on opioid pain relievers. That is why we must start with limiting Schedule II & III opioid prescriptions at a seven day limit federally for the treatment of acute pain. I appreciate my friend Congressman Meadows and his staff for joining forces with us to make an even stronger impact. “

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site

DEA and U.S. Attorney’s Office launch opioid abuse prevention public awareness campaign

Boston, MA - December 1, 2017 - (The Ponder News) -- Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s New England Division and Acting United States Attorney William D. Weinreb spoke with members of the media about Monday’s launch of a state-wide opioid abuse prevention campaign. The initiative seeks to inform the public and spur conversation about the dangers and consequences of abusing, selling and sharing prescription opioids, which has had a devastating impact on families and communities in Massachusetts.

“The DEA believes that a critical component to its role as the nation’s lead drug law enforcement agency is reducing the demand for drugs,” said Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Ferguson. “Opioid abuse is rampant in Massachusetts and throughout New England and many times the abuse of prescription opioids is a gateway to heroin and fentanyl addiction. DEA is proud to collaborate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office on this campaign to encourage conversation and raise awareness about the dangers and consequences associated with the abuse of opioids.”

“The goal of this campaign is to remind people about the dangers of abusing, selling and sharing opioids, including prescription pain pills. Misusing prescription drugs is risky and illegal. We must do more to deter people from misusing opioids, and we hope that increasing awareness will help people make better choices – to resist the risk,” said Acting U.S. Attorney William D. Weinreb.

Dubbed #ResistTheRisk, the initiative will blend a multi-media strategy, including the use of print designs - four of which launched Monday on the MBTA’s red and orange subway lines and various MBTA buses, as well as on buses operated by the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority and the Greater Attleboro Taunton Regional Transit Authority. Additionally, as a part of the campaign, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will engage in direct outreach with youth which will be customized to specific needs and requests. The campaign, which will also involve the use of online marketing, will roll out in stages over the next few months.

The campaign messages focus on a range of audiences, from teens, to parents, to caregivers. All are consistent in their goal of arming individuals to make informed decisions and to inspire further discussion about the opioid crisis.

See more headlines at The Ponder News Web Site