Newhouse Praises Inclusion of Port of Benton Restriction Release Act in National Defense Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) praised the inclusion of the Port of Benton Restriction Release Act of 2016 within the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was approved yesterday by the House Armed Services Committee on a vote of 60-2. Rep. Newhouse released the following statement:
“Inclusion of the Port of Benton Restriction Release Act within the NDAA is a positive step forward for commonsense legislation to release the remaining restrictions that have inhibited the Port of Benton’s ability to develop this parcel of land for the economic benefit of the Tri-Cities region,” said Rep. Newhouse. “I was pleased to work closely with the Port of Benton on this legislation, and I thank them for their work. I am grateful to Chairman Mac Thornberry, Ranking Member Adam Smith, and the House Armed Services Committee for working with me on this legislation and ensuring its inclusion into the NDAA.”
Rep. Newhouse introduced H.R. 5017, the Port of Benton Restriction Release Act of 2016 to lift the conveyance restrictions on a 71.5 acre parcel of land that was deeded to the Port of Benton in 1996 by the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD).
The Port of Benton acquired the 71.5 acre parcel of land in 1996 when the Government Services Administration authorized the transfer from the Department of Energy (DOE) to the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) for disposition to the Port, after the property was declared surplus to the needs of the U.S. The land, which is has been renamed the “Richland Innovation Center,” is located in the Tri-Cities region of Central Washington and is part of the Hanford nuclear reservation’s former “DOE 3000 Area.” On June 9, 2000, President Clinton established the Hanford Reach National Monument, and as a result MARAD granted the Port permission to use the property for business and commercial purposes on July 12, 2007; however, the other restrictions in the “Deed of Conveyance” remained in place. These restrictions have inhibited the Port of Benton’s ability to attract private and small business investments in the former DOE 3000 Area. In accordance with the remaining restrictions, the Port is required to submit all sub-leases over five years on the property to MARAD for approval. Additionally, the Port is required to submit annual reports to MARAD for the parcel. This property is not located next to navigable and therefore no longer serves the purpose for which it was originally conveyed under MARAD’s maritime economic development program.