Yesterday, the House unanimously passed HB168, a bill that GOPC is championing as a means to encourage brownfields redevelopment through regulatory reform. HB168 establishes an affirmative defense for purchasers of contaminated properties. HB168 was introduced earlier this year by Rep. Steven Arndt (R – Port Clinton) after initial introduction in the previous General Assembly (as HB737). Earlier this month, HB168 passed out of the House Civil Justice Committee following three hearings, with no opposition testimony presented. HB168 will now move to the Senate, where it will be assigned to committee. GOPC will continue to provide updates as this legislation moves forward.
HB168 incorporates into Ohio law the federal Bona Fide Purchaser Defense (BFPD) established under CERCLA, which provides prospective buyers of contaminated property with an option to establish a defense to environmental liability after completing the All Appropriate Inquires and proper due diligence. While the BFPD exists to protect a buyer from liability under CERLCA, a federal law, it does not extend protection from liability under state laws. Currently, even if a buyer performs “All Appropriate Inquiries” on a property in Ohio, the buyer will receive no legal liability protection under Ohio law. By strengthening protections under the BFPD, buyers will have a greater incentive to reutilize brownfields in Ohio. To learn more about HB168, please visit GOPC’s previous blogpost.
Brownfield redevelopment continues to be a top policy priority for GOPC. Since the sunset of the CORF program, brownfields redevelopment is down in Ohio. While incentives are still needed to offset the increased cost of redeveloping brownfields, HB168 addresses an important regulatory gap in Ohio law that puts Ohio at a competitive disadvantage to neighboring states with regard to brownfield redevelopment.