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Press Conference on Community Revitalization and Brownfields Cleanup Act of 1997

03/19/1997
Carol M. Browner
Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Press Conference on Community Revitalization and
Brownfields Cleanup Act of 1997


Remarks Prepared for Delivery
March 19, 1997
Washington, DC



Thank you, Minority Leader Gephardt.  I am delighted to join you, Congressmen Dingell, Oberstar and the other cosponsors for the unveiling and introduction of the Community Revitalization and Brownfields Cleanup Act of 1997.

This Brownfields redevelopment legislation is an important step toward restoring hope, opportunity and jobs to communities and neighborhoods that are being held back by the presence of old, abandoned industrial sites.

I’m talking about sites that may be lightly contaminated with toxic waste -- a relic from the days before such substances were regulated.  Entrepreneurs may balk at starting new businesses and creating jobs at these sites, largely because they fear they may be saddled with the cost of cleaning up the mistakes of the past.

I’ve visited many of these sites.  You can feel their potential and their promise.  Local residents, business and government officials are joining together, looking for ways to turn them around.  We ought to be helping them do that in any way we can.

This legislation builds on the Clinton Administration’s Brownfields Action Agenda, initiated two years ago, which is producing results that make economic sense, environmental sense and common sense in cities across this country.

It is designed to help lift the stigma that hangs over Brownfields areas, to enable communities to realize their full redevelopment potential.


So far, EPA has funded a total of 78 Brownfields pilot projects -- and in so doing we have helped communities build a more unified approach to cleaning up and redeveloping these sites.  These Brownfields assessment grants -- up to $200,000 each -- provide money that communities can use to determine their own needs and promote economic development the way they believe it will work the best.  We will be announcing another 25 grants within the next few weeks.

We have also worked to build partnerships among government agencies, businesses and community groups.  In dozens of cities, these partnerships have become the catalyst for Brownfields redevelopment.

We have committed ourselves to addressing the liability problems that so often act as barriers to progress in cleaning up Brownfields properties.  We have also removed more than 29,000 sites from the Superfund master list, thereby lifting the stigma that can prevent redevelopment from moving forward.  Our goal is to encourage redevelopment by assuring potential developers that they won’t be held accountable for someone else’s contamination -- as long as they don’t make it worse.

Last year, President Clinton announced an additional, important effort -- to provide targeted tax incentives to those who purchase and clean up abandoned industrial sites.  

Finally, we have worked with other agencies to build employment training opportunities so that residents of Brownfields neighborhoods can benefit from the new jobs that are created through redevelopment.

This legislation will help take the Brownfields agenda to a higher, more effective level -- enabling us to bring environmental renewal and economic revitalization to more of our communities.

We have an ongoing responsibility to find better, more effective ways to clean up these Brownfields sites, to work with affected communities, and to give them hope for the future.

These communities need Brownfields legislation now.  They should not have to wait for completion of the much broader and more complex Superfund reauthorization.  At the same time, our Administration believes it is important that Congress move to build on the administrative reforms we have in place in today’s Superfund program.  We look forward to working with members to develop responsible, consensus-based legislation to finish the job of ridding America’s neighborhoods of toxic waste dumps.

Again, I commend the Minority Leader and the cosponsors for their leadership on Brownfields legislation.  I look forward to working with you and other members toward building the support we’ll need to get it passed into law.

Working together, we can continue this nation’s 25 years of progress in protecting public health and the environment.  We can protect our health, our communities, our economy -- and pass along a safe, healthy world to our children.

Thank you.