Public Input Opportunity Ends Soon for Publication RR-619, Guidance: General Liability Clarification Letters

The public comment period ends next week on October 28, 2021 for the publication RR-619, Guidance: General Liability Clarification Letters.

The document can be found at the RR Program’s Public Notices & Guidance web page under the “Program Guidance” tab. Comments may be submitted through Oct. 28, 2021 to Michael Prager at Michael.Prager@wisconsin.gov or to DNRRRGuidance@wisconsin.gov.

The guidance document describes when general liability clarification letters, as defined in Wis. Stat. § 292.55, may be helpful and how parties can request a general liability clarification letter from the DNR.

New NR 700 Chapters Govern Financial Assurance Requirements that Apply at Certain Types of Sites with Contaminated Sediment

As of Oct. 1, 2021, two new chapters of the Wisconsin Administrative (Wis. Admin.) Code come into effect. The new chapters, NR 756 and NR 758, both relate to financial assurance requirements for certain types of contaminated sediment sites.

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Engaging Real Estate Lenders in Brownfields Redevelopment Projects

Financing can make or break a redevelopment project; however, lenders are often wary of the environmental liabilities associated with brownfields redevelopments. In order to encourage lenders to finance these projects, Wisconsin state law exempts lenders from environmental liabilities for a range of lending activities, if they meet certain statutory conditions.

In its 2015 report, Investing in Wisconsin, the Brownfields Study Group (BSG) recognized that Wisconsin’s liability exemption for lenders had recently turned 20 years old, and noted that the lending industry had evolved significantly over those two decades. The BSG recommended that a subset of the group meet with stakeholders to examine whether the exemption remains useful and relevant in light of current lending practices and regulations.

Between May 2016 and April 2017, a group of Wisconsin DNR personnel, lenders, attorneys, and trade organizations met five times to discuss, in a public forum, the various components of the state’s lender liability exemption and analyze whether the current exemption meets the needs of lenders and the public. In April 2017, this group of professionals formed a list of recommendations for the BSG, which will consider the proposed items at an upcoming public meeting.

During this effort, the Wisconsin DNR renewed its outreach efforts and strengthened partnerships with the lending community. The Wisconsin DNR reviewed its lender factsheets and updated and republished several guidance documents. The Wisconsin Bankers Association helped the Wisconsin DNR reach the WBA members by authoring informational articles in its membership publications and by distributing Wisconsin DNR’s guidance at its compliance forums, and including information in teaching materials for its compliance courses. Wisconsin DNR staff continue to reach out to bankers and lenders at statewide conferences and via Green Team meetings.