NOAA 03-126
Contact: Ben Sherman
NOAA News Releases 2003
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Federal Support Will Assist Ports With Brownfields Cleanup and Reuse

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with six other cooperating federal agencies, announced today that three port cities have been chosen as the first “Portfields Initiative” pilots. The “Portfields Initiative” was announced today by James R. Mahoney, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA deputy administrator, in Portland, Ore., at the Brownfields 2003 conference. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Portfields Initiative pilots are New Bedford, Mass., Tampa, Fla., and Bellingham, Wash. Each port was chosen for its strong commitment to redevelopment, its particular needs and its proposal to work with federal partners on the Portfields Initiative.

President Bush signed the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act in January 2002 with broad bipartisan support and has increased spending for brownfields cleanup by doubling funding to $200 million in his FY03 budgeting. This legislation demonstrates unprecedented recognition of the environmental and economic ramifications of brownfields and the need to address them. Portsfield is part of the Brownfields Federal Partnership Action Agenda that focuses on the redevelopment of brownfields in port communities.

“Revitalizing America’s ports and harbors is an important economic and environmental challenge,” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph. D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “This important Initiative helps local communities revitalize ports and improves marine transportation system while restoring and protecting our coastal resources.”

The federal agencies partnered with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) to develop a Portfields Report from information gathered through interviews with ports that successfully incorporated brownfields redevelopment into port activities. The report is designed to transfer successful practices and strategies to other ports.

With maritime trade expected to double by the year 2020, U.S. shipping ports will be faced with the need to increase capacity and infrastructure. Available land is often limited in port areas; therefore ports must use existing land more efficiently. The Portfields federal agencies will work in close partnership to provide targeted resources to expedite redevelopment of brownfields in shipping communities. Redeveloping brownfields in port areas can facilitate improved marine transportation while providing environmental, economic and social benefits.

NOAA and EPA have been working together to address coastal brownfields since 1985. In January 2003, NOAA and EPA signed a new memorandum of understanding to renew their commitment to working together on cross-agency issues and to lay the groundwork for further collaboration with other agencies on this new Portfields Initiative and included jointly identifying and implementing actions that link brownfields assessment and cleanup with coastal habitat restoration and waterfront revitalization planning and implementation.

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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