Gardner, Bennet, Perlmutter Advocate for Further Development of Commerce City

Washington, DC – Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Congressman Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) today sent a letter to Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jack Reed (D-RI), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee respectively, and Congressmen Mac Thornberry (TX-13) and Adam Smith (WA-9), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee respectively, urging them to include the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Amendment in the final conference report of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA). 

The provision allows for the lifting or modification of a deed restriction on land that Commerce City, Colorado owns if the land is proven safe following an environmental assessment. Commerce City has been working with federal and state regulators to prove the property’s safety, but Congressional action is necessary to fully allow for residential or industrial use of the property.    

The letter reads in full:

Dear Chairmen McCain and Thornberry and Ranking Members Reed and Smith:

As you prepare for conference negotiations on the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act, we urge you to include Section 2839 of House-passed H.R. 4909 in the final conference report.

This provision would amend the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Act of 1992 (Refuge Act) to allow for the removal of deed restrictions on land Commerce City, Colorado purchased. This will only occur if an environmental risk assessment under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act finds that it is safe to do so. Although the property was cleaned up under the Refuge Act, the law included perpetual deed restrictions prohibiting the land’s use for residential or industrial uses, which regulators cannot remove until Congress amends the law. 

The land was part of a U.S. Army chemical weapons manufacturing facility during World War II, which subsequently became a Superfund site. After cleanup, part of the site became the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, and Commerce City purchased other excess land at fair market value. The City has been working for several years with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the Tri-County Health Department to prove the property’s safety. The deed restrictions, however, cannot be completely removed without Congressional action. Section 2839 of H.R. 4909 creates a process for Commerce City to work with these state and federal regulators to evaluate the property. If proven safe, the deed restrictions could be modified or lifted allowing Commerce City the option to use the lands for residential or industrial purposes.  

We appreciate your consideration of this provision in the final conference report. Please contact our offices if we can be of any assistance.