1998 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Career/Pro <cpro@igc.apc.org>
Date: Wed, 22 Jul 1998 10:08:57 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Title VI Remarks from Administrator Browner
The following are remarks made by Carol Browner at the Environmental 
Justice Roundtable at Detroit regarding Title VI and brownfields.



                Carol M. Browner, Administrator
                Environmental Protection Agency

                 Remarks Prepared for Delivery
                Environmental Justice Roundtable
                          Detroit, MI
                         July 17, 1998

     Thank you Mayor Archer -- for your steadfast leadership on the 
revitalization of Detroit, and all you have done to improve the lives of 
this city's citizens. I especially want to thank you for calling all of 
us here today, for organizing this important meeting and the tours this 

     I was delighted to accept your invitation. This is an important 
opportunity for me to hear your concerns, and for all of us here to roll 
up our sleeves and work together on concrete, constructive ways that we 
can revitalize our cities, attract development, and still protect the 
basic rights of all citizens.

     For the past five and half years, the Clinton Administration has 
made it a top priority to help revitalize our nation's cities -- to 
replace the despair and neglect that has plagued many urban centers with 
the hope and promise of new jobs, new resources, and new resolve.

     We've all been working hand in hand -- mayors, county officials, 
community leaders, businesses, environmental justice groups, and 
environmentalists. And the results not only have met our expectations, 
but far exceeded them.

     Brownfields redevelopment is one of the best examples -- our cities' 
abandoned industrial properties.  Today, EPA is working with 150 
communities across the country to breathe new life into brownfields and 
to return them to the economic engines they once were.

     And this week in Washington, Vice President Gore announced an 
additional 71 pilot projects.  Altogether, that's 228 pilots across the 
country -- sparks that will ignite a fire of renewal throughout our 
cities and across the country.

     We've come a long way with brownfields.

     In Dallas, Texas, a $200,000 grant from EPA has leveraged nearly $54 
million in public and private redevelopment dollars. In Bridgeport, 
Connecticut, local vision has led to the cleanup and redevelopment of more than 120 acres of 
brownfields, creating hundreds of new jobs for Bridgeport's citizens.

     In Toledo, a new pilot community, the city will undertake a massive 
evaluation of brownfields, and has committed to involving city residents 
every step of the way.

     Here in Detroit, we've worked with the state and the community to 
evaluate 14 brownfields sites, and helped redevelop the Scotten Property, 
an abandoned steel and porcelain plant turned into facility that now 
produces plastics for automobiles.

     Across the nation, in partnership with state and local government 
and communities, we have leveraged nearly $1 billion in private funds for 
redevelopment of brownfields, from Dallas to Sacramento to Pittsburgh -- creating more 
than 2,000 jobs in the process. Together, we are proving that you can 
protect both people and prosperity.

     That is why when some people say we can't protect communities that 
are unfairly burdened by pollution and still revitalize our cities, we 
know the opposite is true.  Time and time again, this Administration has 
proven that you can have robust economic growth and still have strong 
protections -- protections of our environment, health, and our basic 
rights as citizens. These are all inextricably linked.

     Like every community in this country, minority communities want 
water that is safe for drinking, streams safe for fishing, air that is 
healthy to breathe, and land free from toxic chemicals. And they want 
opportunity -- opportunity to work and make a decent living.

     But some minority communities believe they have been 
disproportionately affected by pollution because of their race.

     Our nation's 34-year old Civil Rights Act requires the federal 
government to ensure that federal funds are not used to discriminate 
against people on the basis of race, color, or national origin.

     Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, citizens may file complaints 
with EPA that allege discrimination from the programs and activities of 
people who receive EPA funding.  State and local governments carry out 
most of the day-to-day permitting decisions with EPA funding. But the 
Civil Rights law only allows citizens to file complaints with the federal 
government, not with states or local governments.

     EPA now has 15 formal complaints under investigation from such 
communities. And with this in mind, EPA has a responsibility to address 
those complaints on their merits in a fair and timely manner.

     And we are confident that we can do so without thwarting the 
redevelopment of our urban centers.  Addressing these complaints need not 
scare businesses away, nor cause our inner cities to backslide into ruin 
and decay.

     Our experience tells us that if you give people the opportunity to 
sit down together and listen to one another, we can find common-sense, 
cost-effective solutions that also provide every American and every 
American community with equal environmental and public health protection.

     Recently, we issued an interim guidance on how we would manage these 
claims of discrimination. This is just a starting point to open up a 
dialogue with business leaders, community leaders, and state officials 
and mayors so that together we can shape a final policy that works for 

     A meaningful dialogue is behind our Title VI Advisory Committee -- 
23 representatives from state, tribal, and local governments, industry, 
academia, non-governmental organizations, and community groups working 
to develop recommendations on how to meaningfully address Title VI concerns 
up-front before permits become the subject of complaints.

     Our goal is clear: First, to provide citizens with input into 
decisionmaking and swift resolution of their concerns. Second, to give 
businesses a climate of certainty that fosters development. And third, 
not to second-guess responsible local and state decisionmaking.

     We at EPA do not have all the answers. And that is the reason I am
here today -- to work with you so we can move forward with more answers 
than questions.

     Elliott Laws   our former Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste 
and Emergency Response   chairs our advisory committee. He is here today, 
and he will convey your ideas to the committee members at their next 
meeting at the end of this month.

     And I can tell you that EPA will not move forward, we will not 
finalize the Title VI guidance, until we have received the committee's 
final input, which we expect in December.

     So let us begin our meeting. But before we do, I want to set the 
record straight: As we move forward today, let's have a discussion based 
on the facts -- not on rumor.

     The fact is, EPA has received formal environmental justice 
complaints that we have a legal responsibility to address.

     The fact is, we are working with all sides to shape a policy that 
works for everyone.

     The fact is, there is no evidence that redevelopment is grinding to 
a halt.  In no case has a Title VI petition pending before EPA held up 
redevelopment in our cities.

     Mayor Guido, you know this firsthand. When minority community groups 
voiced concern over a Ford automobile coating plant in Dearborn, we 
worked with the city and state to address those concerns up front. 
Changes were made in the permit, the permit was issued, and the plant is 
moving forward.

     In Lawrence, Massachusetts, Gencorp involved the entire community, 
including minority groups, from the very start of their effort to 
redevelop a brownfield into a plant that produces space age polymers. 
Today, the project is underway and the community is on board. According 
to a top Gencorp official -- and I quote, "The Lawrence experience 
proves that economic growth, environmental justice, and environmental 
restoration can work together for the betterment of the whole community."

     Let me say that a Title VI complaint has never been filed against a
brownfields redevelopment.  Involving communities up front, and every 
step of the way

     We've seen this with brownfields.

     We've seen this with our successful efforts to clean up Superfund 
toxic waste sites. We've established 50 advisory groups at toxic waste 
sites across the nation.  We've provided $12 million for technical 
assistance for citizens, to ensure their informed participation. And to 
date, we've cleaned up more Superfund sites in the last five years than 
in the previous 12 years.

     The process is working. Development is moving forward. Our citizens 
are being protected.

     Thirty-four years ago, when the Civil Rights Act was adopted, no one 
fully appreciated that pollution could also be a means for effecting some 
communities more than others.  But I remain convinced -- economic 
development can continue while we protect the rights of all our citizens 
to a safe and healthy environment.

     Instead of people scaring the public with predictions of economic 
calamity, the nation must come together and take responsible, common 
sense steps to ensure  protection of public health and the environment in 
every one of this nation's communities.  Ensuring the basic rights of 
every citizen is not about stopping development, but about responsible 

     I call on you, the mayors, to help us find ways to build our cities 
so that our economy continues to grow, and no American community is left 
behind.   Thank you.

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