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Vice President's Announcement of Brownfields Expansion

05/13/1997
                        Carol M. Browner
      Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


                  Remarks Prepared for Delivery
     Vice President's Announcement of Brownfields Expansion
                        The White House
                          May 13, 1997




     Welcome and thank you for coming.

     We are delighted to have the Vice President with us today, as well as members of Congress and mayors from cities across the country, to mark another important step toward restoring hope, opportunity and jobs to communities and neighborhoods that are saddled with the presence of old, abandoned industrial sites.

     Right from the very start, one of the Clinton-Gore administration's top priorities has been to help cities and communities clean up properties known as "brownfields."

     Many of these sites were, at one time, thriving factories -- sources of economic vitality, of jobs, of community pride.

     Now, however, they are sources of neighborhood blight and health hazards.  As such, they are robbing communities and neighborhoods of the opportunity to share in the nation's economic progress.

     These are the sites that aren't contaminated enough to pose a serious public health risk and therefore qualify for Superfund cleanup.  But they do contain just enough toxic wastes -- or maybe even just the possibility of contamination -- to frighten off potential developers and other businesses concerned about getting stuck with the responsibility for cleaning up the mistakes of the past.

     There are thousands of these brownfields located around the country.  I've visited a number of them.  I could feel their potential and their promise.  Local residents, business and government officials are joining together, looking for ways to turn them around.

     We should be helping them any way that we can.  And, in fact, we are doing precisely that.

     Three-and-a-half years ago, I announced the first Brownfields pilot grant -- to the city of Cleveland.  Mr. Vice President, I'm sure you remember those early days of the Brownfields initiative, and all of the promise that it offered.  Thanks to your leadership and your vision, that promise has been turned into action.

     EPA has removed tens of thousands of individual sites from the national Superfund inventory -- thereby taking away the stigma associated with brownfields sites.  We have taken steps to clarify liability limits for prospective purchasers and lenders.  We have provided seed money for more than 100 Brownfields pilot projects in cities across the country.  

     As just one example, in 1995, with an EPA pilot grant of $200,000, the city of Louisville put together a brownfields working group to seek developers for the city's brownfields areas and to help them overcome the obstacles they would face.

     These brownfields had become magnets for drugs and crime.  Today, their revitalization is bringing new life to the surrounding neighborhoods.  The city got the ball rolling with a $1.7 million investment of public funds -- an amount that generated another $7 million in private investment at the two sites.  More than 60 permanent jobs have been created.  That number is expected to rise to 115.  And more commercial development is on the way.

     Meanwhile, Louisville is busy targeting another four sites for brownfields redevelopment.  

     Clearly, this program works.  It works for cities.  It works for neighborhoods.  It works for America.

     Signs that warn "danger -- keep out" are giving way to signs of economic progress, new jobs and community revitalization.

     And when we encourage the redevelopment of a brownfield, we go a long way toward saving an undeveloped "greenfield" area from the bulldozer.

     Today, we take a major step forward -- with an expanded commitment that will mean more resources, more funding and more action on brownfields redevelopment.

     In a moment, the Vice President will be telling us about an initiative to put the full force of government behind this successful effort to help revitalize our communities.

     But first, let me turn it over to the Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin, who has some important words about his department's role in encouraging brownfields redevelopment.  Secretary Rubin....