1998 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@igc.apc.org>
Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 15:40:42 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields

To the surprise of many involved in Brownfields activity, House
Democratic supporters of the program forced the deletion of restrictive
language from the VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill.
By a voice vote on Friday, July 17, the House accepted the
Stokes-DeGette Amendment, authored by Diana DeGette, a first-year
Representative from Colorado, and Louis Stokes, ranking Democrat on the
Appropriations Committee.

Before the amendment was accepted, DeGette told the House, "This bill
jeopardizes the EPA's brownfields program ... in three ways: First of
all, it prohibits any of these funds from being used by localities to
set up revolving loan programs. Secondly, this bill provides only $75
million in funding, which is 17.4 percent below the President's budget
request. Finally, this bill prohibits the funds from being used for
research and community outreach, a vital component of the program, which
furthers understanding of brownfields and gives communities the tools to
further redevelopment. 

"Our amendment remediates these three problems with the bill. It
restores the important brownfields component of the legislation, which
is so critical towards cleaning up environmental contamination in our
inner-cities throughout this country and revitalizing these areas so
that they can be economically beneficial to the entire community."

Following passage, Michael Oxley (R-Ohio), head of one of the
subcommittees with jurisdiction over Superfund and Brownfields
legislation, warned, "I do not want the EPA or anyone else to think that
the current Superfund law authorizes the Agency to use brownfields money
to capitalize revolving loan funds. Moreover, brownfields money may be
used pursuant to section 311(c) of CERCLA to fund only, and I quote,
'Research with respect to the detection, assessment and evaluation of
the effects on and risks to human health of hazardous substances and
detection of hazardous substances in the environment....'

"The language of section 311(c) does not, I emphasize, does not,
authorize the Agency to use brownfields money to fund conferences,
seminars, meetings, workshops, or other activities that have nothing to
do with actual research." 

In response, DeGette defended the program: "I think it is a little
inaccurate to say that there has been legal authority saying that it is
not intended to be used for revolving funds and other purposes.... So I
guess I would just like to state for the record that I agree that EPA
should not be able to use these funds for any illegal purpose beyond its
legal authority, but I think that to state that they have been using
them for illegal purposes goes beyond what the Inspector General and GAO
have, in fact, said." 

Assuming that the Appropriations bill passes the House this week with no
further changes in the Brownfields language, the measure will go to
Senate-House Conference. Since the Senate version of the bill reportedly
does not allow the use of the Appropriations for the revolving loan
fund, that still needs to be resolved. And it's possible that in the
Conference Report language that the joint Committee will attempt to
clarify the issues raised by Oxley and DeGette during last Friday's


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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