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Speeches By EPA Administrator

 

Land Revitilization Agenda Announcement, Baltimore, Maryland

04/10/2003
Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
on announcing the
Land Revitalization Agenda
Baltimore, Maryland

April 10, 2003


Thank you, Governor (Bob) Ehrlich), for that introduction. It = s great to be back in Maryland with you. I also want to thank Mayor (Martin) O = Malley for welcoming us to Baltimore.

I can = t help but comment on the numerous opportunities for cheap jokes presented by the image of a bunch of politicians standing here in front of a circus tent. I = m just grateful no one played A Send in the Clowns @ as we all walked in.

The Inner Harbor is one of America = s great urban revitalization success stories. Hard as it is to believe, this area was once an urban wasteland B a blight on the community, a symbol of decline.

But thanks to the vision of this city = s leaders B in both the public and private sectors B Baltimore = s Inner Harbor is one of the most popular waterfront destinations in America, a place where a million visitors come every year to enjoy everything this place has to offer.

All across America today, communities are facing the same sort of challenge Baltimore mastered here in the Inner Harbor. In too many places, parcels of land that were once productive now sit unused. Often contaminated by industrial or commercial waste, cut off from the community, they contribute nothing to the vitality of their neighborhoods or the futures of the people who live there.

Fortunately, President Bush and the Congress are working together to strengthen our federal commitment to cleanup such land. Last year, the President signed landmark legislation that is making it easier for communities to reclaim many of these parcels B called brownfields B for productive use. He has also doubled spending on brownfields projects.

In addition, through the federal Superfund program we are restoring land that has suffered from more serious environmental problems. The President = s budget for the coming year requests an additional $150 million for Superfund cleanups.

These programs, and others B which rely on partnerships with state and local governments as well as local businesses B are working. Contaminated land is being cleaned up. Threats to the health of the environment B and of the people B are being removed. But cleanup, in and of itself, is not enough. To get the most benefit from these programs, we have to help communities take the next step B making good use of the now-clean land.

Since I became administrator of the EPA, I have visited more than 40 states and scores more cities and towns and I = ve seen some great examples of how once-dirty sites have become shining examples of the success we can achieve. I = ve seen places where abandoned gas stations overrun with rats became green ballfields where children now play. I = ve seen the sites of old, falling down factories transformed into new housing for seniors. I= ve seen the wreckage of the past become beacons of the future B and I have to tell you, these are wonderful sights indeed.

At EPA, we believe our job is not complete until every site we = ve helped cleanup receives a similar transformation. That is why today we are pleased to announce our new Land Revitalization Agenda B a comprehensive plan to build the partnerships needed to unleash the energy and commitment of America= s communities in revitalizing its once-polluted sites. Starting now we will apply the tools we usually reserved for Brownfields to Superfund and RCRA sites.

We will be piloting ready for reuse and technical determination for these sites, clarifying concerns about liability and leveraging grant resources across multiple federal cleanup programs. The Land Revitalization Agenda provides a menue of over 60 ideas to use with planning and to provide a real opportunity for community participation every step of the way B so that the vision of the community can be realized.

We will promote innovative technical solutions and make them available to the public while strengthening our workforce to make reuse an integral part of the job.

The Harborpoint site where we meet today is a model of the sort of partnership B and the sort of future B we hope to build. By working together B government at all levels, the Honeywell Corporation, Streuver Brothers, and members of the community all helped this site become a showplace for revitalization. It is a model we want to recreate. It will include office space, restaurants, retail stores, a waterfront park, and much-needed additional parking B in all, a $400 million investment in Baltimore = s future.

It will also help create more than 5,000 jobs. And it will do all this, not in the middle of some precious farmland or dwindling open space, but on land that was developed for the first time years ago and is now ready to be reused for the benefit of this community and all those who live, work, and play here.

Through our Land Revitalization Agenda, cleanup and re-use will be as closely linked as Maryland blue crabs and Old Bay seasoning. There won = t be one without the other. Planning for productive reuse will accompany plans for cleanup, right from the start.

By marrying these two priorities so closely, we will help ensure that in the years to come, the benefits of today = s planning and vision will give our children and grandchildren a brighter, cleaner, and healthier tomorrow.

Thank you.