Rep. Newhouse Introduces Port of Benton Restriction Release Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) 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). Rep. Newhouse released the following statement on introducing H.R. 5017:
"This legislation removes restrictions and barriers that have inhibited the Port’s ability to develop this parcel of land for the economic benefit of the Tri-Cities region. In recent years, there has been an increase in economic activity near this property, including over $70 million in investments, the creation of the Manhattan Project National Historic Park, and the transfer of 1,641 acres of Hanford land back to the local communities for further economic and industrial development. The Port of Benton has targeted uses for this land that could yield significant economic growth and the creation of jobs for the local communities and for the region – highlighting the importance of removing these deed restrictions. This legislation will release the remaining restrictions included in the original ‘Deed of Conveyance,’ which will allow the Port and surrounding communities to continue their hard work to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and retain a skilled workforce in the area.”
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.