As noted in last week’s blog, the recently-passed Consolidated Omnibus Appropriations Act made a number of modifications to the federal brownfield program. That blog focused on the expansion of lessees’ ability to qualify for Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser (BFPP) status (and thereby obtain protection from Superfund liability). However, the Act made other changes that are of interest to brownfield site owners, developers, states, municipalities, and potential applicants for federal brownfield grant money. These modifications are found in Division N of the legislation, entitled “the Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development Act of 2018” (“BUILD Act”). They include the following: eliminating state and local government Superfund liability for sites acquired through seizure or otherwise in connection with law enforcement activity. State and local governments were previously protected only with respect to sites acquired “involuntarily”; eliminating the restriction for grants to petroleum sites that a site must be “relatively low risk” as compared with other petroleum-only sites in a state; allowing grants to be used for the cleanup of publicly-owned properties even if the public owner is not a BFPP; increasing the maximum federal brownfield grant per site from $200,000 to $500,000, which limit can be waived by EPA up to a maximum of $650,000 per site; authorizing multi-purpose brownfield grants of up to $1 million per...
Federal Budget Act Expands Lessees’ Ability to Claim Superfund Exemption as Bona Fide Prospective Purchasers
The recently-enacted Consolidated Omnibus Appropriations Act made headlines in extending funding for federal government programs through September 30, 2018. Less widely noted were the myriad changes wrought by the Act to the administration of many federal programs. Among the programs affected was the federal brownfields program. The major substantive change in the Act was the expansion of the Bona Fide Potential Purchaser (BFPP) protection for lessees of properties. BFPP status exempts from Superfund liability parties who become owners or operators of facilities after the discharge of contaminants, so long as they are unrelated to parties responsible for the discharge, conduct “all appropriate inquiries” (e.g., a Phase I environmental site assessment) prior to closing, and observe certain other protocols post-closing. Until now, lessees were precluded from qualifying as a BFPP unless the property owner was also a BFPP. Now, if a lessee performs the required actions, it can obtain BFPP protection irrespective of whether its landlord is similarly exempted. This change will have a major impact on the liability exposure of lessees, particularly those who are developing and operating properties under long term ground leases. Most of the Act’s other brownfield-related provisions concern the funding of federal brownfield grants. Non-profit organizations are now eligible for such grants. The eligibility of grants for petroleum-related sites has been expanded. The...
One stop shopping. That is the goal of the bill that Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed into law on January 13, 2014, creating the Philadelphia Land Bank. The Land Bank, which is to be fully operational by the end of this year, is intended to streamline and consolidate the process by which the City acquires and sells vacant and tax delinquent properties. The Land Bank will also act as the single repository for the approximately 9,500 vacant and surplus properties currently owned by the City through three separate entities: the City, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation.
On December 18, 2013, Susanne Peticolas, a Director in the Gibbons Real Property & Environmental Department, moderated a panel, “There May Be Money for Your Client for Site Remediation,” sponsored by the New Jersey Bar Association’s Environmental Law Section. The program focused on the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund (“HDSRF”). Michael Deely, Supervisor for NJDEP’s HDSRF program, cheered the audience by reporting that the long depleted fund once again has money for site remediation grants and loans.
On the weekend of June 24-26, 2011, the New Jersey Institute of Continuing Legal Education (“NJICLE”) in cooperation with the New Jersey State Bar Association (“NJSBA”), and New Jersey Corporate Counsel Association, held its annual Environmental Law Section Forum Weekend (“the Forum”). Taking place in Avalon, New Jersey, the Forum featured three days of seminars covering various hot-button environmental topics including, Funding for Remediating Sites, Vapor Intrusion, the LSRP Program, Non-Governmental Organizations’ Perspectives on Issues and Resolutions, the well-known NJDEP v. Occidental case also referred to as the Lower Passaic River litigation, Climate Change, and rounded out the weekend with two programs on Ethical Issues including Alternative Fee Arrangements and Multi-Party Settlements.
The Supreme Court in Montana v. Wyoming –U.S.–, 131 S.Ct. 1765 (2011), rejected Montana’s claim that Wyoming’s usage of water depleted the amount of water available to it under the Yellowstone River Compact between Montana and Wyoming. Montana contended that Wyoming breached Article V(A) of the Compact which provided that “appropriative rights to the beneficial uses of the water of the Yellowstone River System existing in each signatory State as of January 1, 1950, shall continue to be enjoyed in accordance with the laws governing the acquisition and use of water under the doctrine of appropriation.”
The Brownfield Reimbursement Program (the “Program”), a New Jersey State initiative designed to reimburse developers up to 75% of costs incurred to remediate a brownfield site, has run out of money and is temporarily shut down. This development arrives on the heels of a recent New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) announcement that, effective May 3, 2011, applications to the Underground Storage Tank Fund, a similar initiative to help homeowners remove USTs, will not be reviewed or processed due to insufficient funds.
New Jersey Bulk Sales Act — Division of Taxation Posts Expanded Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Recently, this past December, the New Jersey Division of Taxation posted expanded Frequently Asked Questions and responses regarding the Bulk Sales Act, NJSA 54:50-38. Given the breadth of the Act, which was expanded a couple of years ago to cover transactions in which any seller makes a bulk sale, not just sellers who collect and remit sales tax, a review of these new FAQs is advisable.
All of us are intrigued by the concept of utilizing a clean, renewable energy source to generate abundant and cheap power for our homes and businesses. Some of us have even investigated installing a renewable energy system, but have come away disappointed due to onerous regulatory obstacles and the high cost associated with these installations. That is, unless you are looking into installing a solar energy power facility in New Jersey.
The New Jersey State Comptroller released a report Wednesday entitled “A Programmatic Examination of Municipal Tax Abatements.” The Comptroller’s report is critical of both five year abatements and long term abatements granted by municipalities and was being widely reported in the press yesterday. Referring to five year abatements (NJSA 40A-21-1 et seq.) and long term abatements (NJSA 40A-20-1 et seq.), the Comptroller’s report finds “numerous weaknesses in the regulation, implementation and oversight of these programs” including: PILOTs paid to municipalities are at the expense of counties, school districts and other taxpayers; there is lack of transparency and centralization of information about abatement agreements; criteria and processes for evaluating potential abatement agreements are weak; directly affected stakeholders are not adequately involved in the decision making process; municipal follow up on abatement terms and benefits is lacking; redevelopment areas in which abatements are granted are not periodically reviewed to account for neighborhood changes or improvement; municipalities often fail to use abatements to bring in the type of redevelopment that would address community needs or bring appropriate improvement; and the State does not closely monitor the use of abatements or offer significant guidance to municipalities on how to interpret relevant statutes or implement abatement programs.