Speeches By EPA Administrator
Nine Mile Run Press Conference Pittsburgh, PA06/25/1999
|Carol M. Browner, Administrator|
Environmental Protection Agency
Remarks Prepared for Delivery
Nine Mile Run Press Conference
June 25, 1999
Thank you Mayor Murphy for inviting me here today.
Cities and communities across the nation are littered with abandoned industrial tracts like these here at Nine Mile Run here in Pittsburgh. They lie idle because developers fear that environmental hazards could be lurking underneath. We call these areas "brownfields."
But this Administration doesn't look at these sites and see brownfields. We see gold mines. And we want to work with local leaders like Mayor Murphy to see these sites are used at their full potential.
What you see here now is the remnants of an industrial past -- millions of cubic yards of slag left here by the steel industry since the early 1900s.
But what you'll see here in years to come is a new community of 700 homes and a 100 acre park.
This kind of brownfield development has nationwide potential.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors recently surveyed 223 cities across the nation -- both large and small. Those cities alone estimated they were sitting on 178,000 acres of brownfields that if developed could bring in almost $1 billion to nearly $3 billion in tax revenue -- and create nearly 700,000 jobs in our urban areas.
By investing in these sites and making them productive again we can both rejuvenate our urban areas while relieving development pressure on our outlying open spaces and farm land.
So far this Administration has provided over $60 million to more than 300 communities across the nation -- including this site here -- to help them redevelop brownfields. These partnerships have helped communities leverage more than $1 billion in investment capital and created thousands of jobs.
But those brownfield grants were just the first step. As part of this Administration's "Livability Agenda," President Clinton and Vice President Gore have proposed a tool to help our states and communities finish the job.
And that tool is Better America Bonds -- the simplest law you could write to do the greatest amount of good. It's just a quick adjustment to the tax code.
The Conference of Mayors overwhelmingly agreed they needed access to low-interest loans to help them redevelop brownfield sites in their cities. Well, Better America Bonds will give these communities access to zero-interest loans.
With Better America Bonds, state and local governments will be able to issue nearly $10 billion in bonds to clean up brownfields, preserve open space and protect water quality. They will never pay a dime in interest and can wait 15 years before paying back the principal. Investors who buy the bonds receive tax credits equal to the interest they would have received on the bonds -- a total of $700 million.
Bonding authority will be distributed directly to the communities through a competitive process, just like our successful Brownfields program.
Let me tell you what Better America Bonds is not: It is not a big government program. The federal government will not buy one square inch of land. All purchases will be made at the state or local level. We're not sticking our nose where it doesn't belong, we're just lending a hand where it's needed.
The new millennium is now 189 days away. Our cities and communities -- some like Pittsburgh with centuries of history already behind them -- need help if they are to thrive in the century to come.
This Administration thinks that Better America Bonds can give our communities the boost they need.
With Better America Bonds, we see children playing in the parks and greenspace that will sprout in places like Nine Mile Run. And new stands of trees will protect waterways -- like Nine Mile Run Stream and the Monongahela River it feeds into -- for the wildlife that need them and the families that want to enjoy them.
Our states and communities will build this legacy themselves. With Better America Bonds we're just handing them the tools they have told us they need to turn these idle brownfields into urban gold mines.