Partner Don Snemis Talks Brownfield Redevelopment at Ninth Annual Environment, Energy & Natural Reso

April 10, 2017
Partner Don Snemis Talks Brownfield Redevelopment at Ninth Annual Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Symposium
 
Ice Miller Partner Don Snemis spoke at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law’s Ninth Annual Environment, Energy & Natural Resources Symposium on March 31. He participated on the panel, “From Brownfields to Greenfields in Indiana.”
 
Below, catch highlights from Don’s participation on the panel.
 
On Brownfields:
Forward-thinking developers and municipalities see brownfields as opportunities, as redeveloping  brownfields results in a double benefit. It removes a dangerous, blighted, contaminated property and adds clean, attractive housing or a prosperous business that generates tax revenue and attracts other economic development. But, developers have several wants and needs before they redevelop a brownfield. They want financial support in the form of grants or low-interest loans. They want certainty, consistency and predictability from state and local officials responsible for promoting economic development and regulating brownfield redevelopment. They want decisions made quickly. Perhaps most importantly, developers need protection against future environmental liabilities.

On Working with the Indiana Brownfields Program:
The Indiana Finance Authority’s Indiana Brownfields Program serves an important role in providing funding and liability protection to those who seek to redevelop Indiana’s brownfields. The Brownfields Program enjoys an excellent reputation for its technical expertise and willingness to assist with the revitalization of blighted properties. The Brownfields Program’s only weakness is that it is understaffed and overworked. As such, it is incumbent upon those of us in the private sector who work with the Brownfields Program to provide all relevant information, make sure environmental reports comply with regulatory requirements, and make sure the Program is aware of all relevant deadlines as early as possible.
 
On Cost Recovery Actions:
Environmental cost recovery actions allow those who incur the cost of environmental remedial, removal and corrective actions to recover those costs, including attorney’s fees and litigation costs, from those who caused or contributed to the contamination. Friendly Indiana statutes such as the Environmental Legal Actions Act (IC 13-30-9-1) and the Underground Storage Tank Act (IC 13-23-13-8), as well as various common law doctrines, provide an ample legal framework for such claims. Further, Indiana courts have struck down many historical policy exclusions that might otherwise relieve insurers of their duty to pay such claims. As a result, environmental cost recovery actions can often be successful even when the polluter has been out of business for many years, as long as the polluter’s historic insurance policies can be found.
 
On Tax-Related Funding Mechanisms:
Tax laws can provide other methods for funding brownfields redevelopment. Local governments can form Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts to encourage redevelopment activities in specifically delineated areas. TIF districts generate revenue streams to underwrite redevelopment activities and attract private investment. Community Revitalization Enhancement Districts (CREDs) are special zones in which local governments can acquire property or make improvements for industrial development, and a qualified investment in a CRED generates a tax credits. Finally, the federal New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) program leverages equity, loans, grants and other funding sources to attract capital investments by community-based lenders and investors in low-income communities, also through the use of tax credits.
 
For more information, contact Don Snemis or another member of Ice Miller’s Environmental, Natural Resources Group.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.


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