The White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers today announced a landmark federal framework to speed the cleanup of and redevelopment of shuttered auto facilities resulting from the GM bankruptcy.
The framework will invest more than $800 million to put facilities back into productive use, creating jobs and economic growth in communities across the country. When fully implemented, it will represent the largest environmental and economic development effort for former manufacturing sites in our nation's history. With a federal framework in hand, the United States plans on discussing the framework with the states and the debtor to work to finalize a plan for the use of these funds.
Dr. Edward Montgomery, Executive Director of the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers said, 'Throughout my travel over the last year, I have heard many times that the redevelopment of shuttered auto facilities represents one of the largest economic development challenges our auto communities face. The new framework announced today embodies the Obama Administration's commitment to cleaning up plants and other properties left behind by GM and positioning them again for productive use.'
The White House's chief economic adviser, Larry Summers, said the federal government could get 'most, if not all' of the money it invested in General Motors back once the automaker offers shares to the public later this year.
The announcement of a new federal framework was made at a conference on auto communities hosted by the White House Council, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program, and the Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities.
The framework would allocate $536 million for the cleanup of the properties and approximately $300 million that will assist the states and communities in dealing with the challenges these properties present, including property taxes, demolition costs, plant security costs and other expenses. These funds will be allocated among over 90 sites located in 14 states across the country and include additional pooled funding that will be available to all sites owned by Old GM as needed to cover unforeseen costs.
This proposed framework is the result of a rigorous and concerted effort by the federal government, with input from state partners, to determine the likely cost of remediating contamination at the properties involved. Based on current information, these funds should be sufficient to clean up 90 sites owned by Old GM and undertake targeted cleanup at certain additional sites where Old GM bears unique responsibilities for environmental contamination.
By providing for the necessary cleanup up front, communities will be given a chance to see much quicker reuse and redevelopment than would otherwise be the case. It is unique in a bankruptcy for a cleanup effort this large and complex, spanning across multiple states, to be conducted simultaneously with redevelopment efforts. This framework has significant momentum to become effective by the end of the year, which would be unprecedented given the size and complexity of the bankruptcy. Once final, this framework will result in the largest Trust ever created for the cleanup of debtor-owned property.
'Right now cities and towns across the country are struggling to rebuild economies and protect families at the same time they're facing a legacy of environmental pollution. We are making a significant investment in better health, a cleaner environment, and a brighter future in communities that need our support,' said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson.
'EPA is proud to be working with our federal, state and local partners in an effort to strengthen former auto communities and ensure that they have solid foundations for prosperity. Supporting the restoration of polluted sites not only protects human health and the environment, it also fosters new economic possibilities, makes these communities more competitive and opens pathways to long-term success.'
'As the co-chair of the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers, I am proud of the accomplishments of the Labor Department and our fellow Council departments over the last year. The framework announced today is a truly meaningful step in our collective charge to ensure that workers and families in auto communities from coast to coast have the opportunity to take part in my mission of providing good jobs for everyone,' said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.
In the coming days and weeks, the United States will continue the process of reaching out to the affected states and the debtor to talk about turning this framework into a settlement and plan to present the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York for approval.
In conjunction with the conference and the framework, the White House Council on Automotive Communities and workers also released its first Annual Report. To read the full report, click HERE.