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EPA Administrator Whitman Announces EPA and 21 Other Federal Agencies and Departments to Partner in effort to Revitalize Brownfields throughout the Country

Release Date: 11/13/2002
Contact Information:

David Deegan 202-564-7839 / deegan.dave@epa.gov

(11/13/2002) Speaking before the “Brownfields 2002–Investing in the Future” Conference in Charlotte, N.C., EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today announced that her agency and 21 other federal agencies and departments under the Bush Administration have committed to work together to redevelop Brownfields under the new Brownfields Federal Partnership Action Agenda. The Agenda makes over 100 commitments for cooperative work to help communities more effectively prevent, clean up and reuse Brownfields.

“This year saw some of the most important accomplishments in years in our national Brownfields effort,” said Whitman. “The year 2002 will be remembered as the year we knocked down the roadblocks, strengthened the partnerships, affirmed Washington’s financial commitment, and unleashed the energy and creativity of the private sector.”

"The Brownfields Federal Partnership Action Agenda demonstrates the federal government's leadership in giving local governments the necessary tools to redevelop these properties and our communities," said Mayor James A. Garner,Vice President of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. Garner is Mayor of the Village of Hempstead, N.Y.

"EPA's Brownfields efforts are a real attempt to bring business and government together to make a big difference for local communities," said William Kovacs, U.S.Chamber of Commerce Vice President of Environmental Policy.

The action agenda is one piece of a comprehensive effort by the Bush Administration to address Brownfields cleanup and revitalization efforts. Earlier this year, President Bush signed the new Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act to help states and communities around the country clean up and revitalize Brownfield sites. As part of his FY 2003 budget request, the President has called for more than a doubling of money for the Brownfields program to $200 million. (Brownfields are real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.) The President and Congress recognized in this new law the importance of federal partnerships in achieving their mutual goals of environmental protection and economic revitalization. This action agenda fosters those partnerships.

Highlights of the Action Agenda commitments include:
        • EPA’s commitment to potentially provide $850 million over the next five years to states, tribes, counties, municipalities, and non-profit organizations through Brownfields assessment, cleanup, revolving loan fund, job training and state/tribal grants;
        • Commitments by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Justice, and U.S. Department of Labor to offer funding priority to Brownfields communities through their respective grant mechanisms;
        • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's commitment to lead an interagency "Portfields" project that will focus on the redevelopment and reuse of idled or abandoned lands in and around ports, harbors and marine transportation hubs;
        • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ commitment to announce eight new pilots under its “Urban Rivers Initiative” to address restoration in and around urban rivers;
        • a new, concerted effort to share program information with interest groups, by methods such as linking web sites;
        • changing federal agency policies to facilitate Brownfields redevelopment; and
        • making funding and technical assistance to Brownfields communities a budget priority at all federal agencies.

Whitman made the announcement at the seventh annual "Brownfields 2002–Investing in the Future" Conference at the Charlotte, N.C., Convention Center. The Conference is co-hosted by the Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania and the International City/County Management Association. The program, held in the Charlotte Convention Center, includes more than 75 different technical sessions and workshops, over 40 roundtable discussions, an extensive exhibit hall and presentations of the Phoenix Awards, which were created in 1997 to recognize highly innovative yet practical remediation projects which bring Brownfields sites back to productive use. Within this diverse array of presentations, participants will explore almost every aspect of the new legislation, and share best practices and success stories.

Other topics addressed include finance, insurance, community involvement, legal liability, new state, local and tribal programs, land conservation, remediation technology, real estate transactions, and new industrial residential and commercial development. The conference also provides attendees with new opportunities to explore the banking and finance issues associated with Brownfields redevelopment.

To date, EPA’s Brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $4.6 billion in private investment, helped create more than 20,000 jobs and has resulted in the assessment of more than 4,000 properties.Every acre of reclaimed Brownfield saves 4.5 acres of greenspace.

To obtain a copy of the Brownfields Federal Partnership Action Agenda, which includes a list of participating agencies, go to http://www.epa.gov/brownfields .