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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Brownfields '99 Conference Dallas, Texas

12/06/2000
Excerpt of Remarks of Carol M. Browner, Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
Brownfields '99 Conference

Dallas, Texas
December 6, 1999


....This Administration has clearly demonstrated that we can have both a thriving economy and a healthy environment. One does not come -- must not come -- at the expense of the other. These are national needs that work in concert, not conflict.

This Administration has pledged to continue its leadership by proposing innovative ways to spur job creation, revitalize our inner cities and suburban areas, and still protect our vast open spaces and every American's right to clean water and clear skies.

And reclaiming and revitalizing Brownfields is a huge component in all these things.
Why is this so important? Let's just look at the numbers.

According to the American Farmland Trust, more than 30 million acres of farmland have been lost since 1970. Thirty million acres! That's like bulldozing a state the size of Pennsylvania.

This loss of land has environmental consequences. Consider this: A one acre parking lot generates 16 times more runoff than a meadow. This runoff washes toxic chemicals and other pollutants into our waters, lakes and coastal areas, making them unfit for the wildlife that depend on them and unsafe for the families who want to enjoy them.

But while that land was being swallowed up, hundreds of thousands of acres of brownfields sat idle, according to a report by The U.S. Conference of Mayors. It was estimated that developing that land could bring in almost $1 billion to nearly $3 billion in tax revenue annually, create nearly 700,000 new jobs and take some of the development pressure off of our forests and farms.

In May 1997, the Vice President announced the Brownfields National Partnership Action Agenda, which offered our communities both financial commitments and technical advice from more than 25 Federal agencies and partners.

Today we are releasing the Brownfields National Partnership Action Agenda Accomplishments Report, which shows how far we have come in a relatively short time. So far, local communities have been provided with more than $385 million for brownfields redevelopment, with another $141 million in loan guarantees.

As part of the Action Agenda, 16 Brownfields Showcase Communities were selected to serve as models of what can happen when all levels of government working in partnership with business and community leaders can accomplish when they focus their efforts.

Dallas – one of those showcase communities -- has received more than $1.9 million in financial and technical support from EPA and other agencies. It has been money well spent. That money helped attract another $109 million in private investment. In fact, just before coming here today, Mayor Kirk and I toured a former brownfield site where an arena is now being built.

I see that kind of progress everywhere I go. Another model city Stamford, Connecticut -- this fall became the first city in the nation to issue a development loan from EPA's Brownfield revolving loan program as part of its goal to redevelop and revitalize its waterfront area. Since then Las Vegas has made a loan, Stamford is preparing to make another one and more are in the works.

So much work in progress and all going in the right direction, according to a study released in October by the Council for Urban and Economic Development. That study reviewed 107 completed brownfield sites from around the country. And the numbers are astounding.

For every dollar the federal, state and local governments put into revitalizing brownfields, almost $2.50 in private investment was attracted.

More than 8,300 construction jobs were created. Once the work was done, another 22,000 jobs were either created or retained.

And where is much of this happening? In areas that need it the most -- lower income and minority neighborhoods.

Today I am happy to announce that this Administration will continue to build on our Brownfields successes.

Specifically, 10 new Showcase Communities will be awarded through a competitive process that will begin in the year 2000.

We will add 50 new Brownfield demonstration pilots and give further funding to 50 of the existing pilots to create parks, trails, gardens and habitat restoration.

We will also expand the Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund program by adding 60 new projects this fiscal year.

Last summer, President Clinton toured some of our most struggling urban communities to announce his New Markets Initiative. This Initiative -- with its combination of grants, loans, and tax incentives -- can help restore these communities by encouraging business to invest in these areas and create the kind of jobs, commerce and attractions that are the anchors of a rich civic life.

We want to ensure that every family in every community has the chance to share in our nation's new prosperity.

The President and the Vice President have also proposed a program called Better America Bonds that would allow states and local governments to issue nearly $10 billion in bonds they could use to clean up brownfields, preserve open space, protect water quality -- or all those things together....