1998 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@igc.apc.org>
Date: Wed, 01 Jul 1998 22:16:46 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields

The House Appropriations Committee has just recommended language, in the
Appropriations bill funding U.S. EPA for fiscal year 1999, that would
severely circumscribe EPA's Brownfields activities for the upcoming
year. The language, in the VA-HUD and Independent Agencies
Appropriations Act and accompanying report, is likely to be included in
the final House bill. However, the Senate's counterpart Appropriations
bill does not contain similar language, so there is a chance that the
restrictive language will be modified or even dropped in conference

The House Committee, in its report language, affirms "strong and
bipartisan support for the Brownfields program as an integral part of
the overall [Superfund] program." However, it writes, "the Committee is
very concerned that many activities funded by EPA in the past using the
Brownfields appropriations have little or nothing to do with cleanup or
redevelopment of Brownfields sites." It therefore states, in the
legislation itself, that funds "shall be available only for grants to
State, local, and tribal governments for 'Brownfields' site assessment
projects; grants to state, local, and tribal government for the
development of State, local, and tribal cleanup programs; and related
Environmental Protection Agency personnel and administrative expenses."

This is not an issue of the magnitude of the Brownfields budget - $75
million in the fiscal year 1999 House bill vs. $88.5 million actually
appropriated in 1998. Rather, it would cut about $4 to $5 million in
"outreach, technical assistance, and research" activity from that total.
Over the past few years, funds in this category have gone to numerous
non-profit organizations, including the International City/County
Management Association, the Northeast-Midwest Institute, and the
National Governors Association. These funds have supported the national
Brownfields conference, such as the upcoming Brownfields '98 meeting in
Los Angeles, along with travel support for public participants.

Some people have suggested that the Republican majority is concerned
about the publicity that the Clinton-Gore Administration has reaped from
Brownfields events, but I think the Republicans fail to see how well the
Brownfields program fits the model of federal activism that they
espouse. The Brownfields program is not a massive, bureaucratic federal
effort. Rather, it leverages a small amount of federal money to promote
much larger partnerships involving state, local, and tribal governments;
the private sector, including developers, banks, and insurance
companies; and community, non-profit, and environmental justice groups.
There is no way that $200,000 site assessment pilots can support, by
themselves, the massive cleanup and redevelopment of Brownfields sites
across the country. Multi-stakeholder partnerships are essential for
program success.

The fraction of the Brownfields budget that EPA supplies to
organizations conducting research and organizing conferences makes those
partnerships possible. If as, the Committee suggests, that such funding
is on shaky legal grounds, then it should clarify that it is
appropriate, not further restrict it.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, it should be known that CPEO has a
brownfields research proposal pending before EPA. The House language
would probably preclude that funding. But that's not really why I
question the proposed limitation. Last year, when similar restrictions
were proposed, I criticized them, even though we had no such funding


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 222B View St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/968-1126

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