Congress Passes Brownfields Cleanup Legislation

Statement from Mark Izeman, NRDC Senior Attorney

WASHINGTON (December 20, 2001) - NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is pleased that the House of Representatives approved a measure today that will help stimulate the cleanup and redevelopment of "brownfields" sites -- abandoned industrial or commercial properties located primarily in urban areas. The measure, the Small Business Liability Relief And Brownfields Revitalization Act (HR 2869), is the companion bill to a Senate brownfields bill passed unanimously eight months ago.

The brownfields bill provides $200 million annually over the next five years to states to cleanup and revitalize brownfields properties, as well as incorporates sensible liability changes in federal law to encourage innocent private parties to step in to clean up these idle sites. The bill also provides greater assurances to the states that the federal government will not later override brownfields cleanup decisions under state programs.

By encouraging the redevelopment of brownfields sites across the country, the bill will help revitalize urban areas and reduce suburban sprawl. One important challenge in the bill's implementation, however, is to ensure that state brownfield cleanup standards adequately protect public health and the environment over the long-term. It is also critical that states maintain public records, such as deed restrictions, on sites where toxic substances have not been completely removed after cleanup actions have been completed.

Nevertheless, NRDC supports the passage of this important bill. It will go a long way toward transforming contaminated sites into properties that enhance the quality of life -- both environmentally and economically -- of America's urban communities.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 500,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.