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NEW YORK CITY-Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday signed legislation to establish a local program to clean up brownfields. It’s intended to address sites not eligible for inclusion in the state’s 15-year-old brownfield remediation program.

The legislation, approved unanimously by the City Council on April 22, creates the Office of Environmental Remediation to oversee and coordinate city brownfield policy and creates a local brownfield cleanup program, reportedly the first in the US to provide for municipal oversight. The city’s brownfield program will adhere to the state’s standards, and will enable the OER to use the state’s Brownfield Opportunity area grant program to facilitate community planning for areas containing clusters of brownfields.

Among other things, the New York City Brownfield and Community Revitalization Bill will provide for the creation of a clean property certification program. According to a release from the City Council, “this program is expected to do for brownfields what LEED does for green buildings: provide a tangible symbol of commitment to proper cleanup.” The newly enacted law is also intended to create “a one-stop shop for cleanup” at OER, allowing both owners and developers to achieve “thorough and timely” cleanup of brownfields.

According to a City Council release, the new law was devised to enact the 11 provisions relating to brownfields in the Bloomberg administration’s PlaNYC, which was introduced in 2007. It’s estimated that there are 7,600 acres of brownfields in the city, and “the vast majority” of these do not qualify for inclusion in the state’s initiative, says Bloomberg in a statement. He adds, “These properties have a lasting impact on neighborhoods, lowering property values and threatening public health and the environment, problems that are compounded in neighborhoods with a disproportionately high number of brownfield sites.”

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