1999 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Emery Graham <"egraham"@ci.wilmington.de.us>
Date: Tue, 23 Mar 1999 16:13:51 -0800 (PST)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Re: Primacy and Its Dilemmas


As local municipalities become more involved in the various aspects of
environmental cleanup they encounter their state environmental agencies in a
different manner. By having to focus their attention and begin to develop
expertise in the environmental, and related, aspects of development,
municipalities are bringing a different set of concerns to the negotiation
and interaction table. Most of all, as the unit of government closest to the
citizen, they bring a more elaborate and sensitive set of issues to the
environmental table. These issues reflect the closeness of local governments
to the governed, as compared to the relative distance from the governed
experienced by the state and federal governments.

Primacy becomes a problem when the efforts to enforce EPA standards and
procedures get snarled in local social, cultural, and political realities.
Imagine the shock of an urban liberal environmentalist when they discover
the routine disregard that some state environmental agencies display when
describing the high levels of contamination faced by some Indians on the
reservations or marginalized minority inhabitants in some small rural
company town or mid-atlantic urban enclave.  The ground of brownfields has
served to frame a portion of our shared reality that, for some reason, has
not been highlighted or engaged in the public media before. We are finding
that the values and customs of Americans around the normative issues related
to brownfields vary much more widely than most of us are comfortable
admitting. It's like the "race issue" of the next century.

The challenge that I face is to realize the constructed nature of the dialog
and debate. The most pressing question for me is how to negotiate the
symbolic imperatives presented by the idea that there is a great opportunity
for low and moderate income people to experience the magic of economic
development as a result of bring brownfields back into play. That's not
true. Poor people don't have the money to invest in a brownfields project;
they don't have the training to qualify for cleanup jobs or the money to pay
for "wastesite worker" training so they can qualify to risk their health for
$10 to $17 and hour. Low and moderate income people don't have businesses
that might benefit from the direct or indirect business activities that
might occur if a brownfield is brought back into productive use.

At the next level, low and moderate income residents  and their
organizations in close proximity to brownfields are generally marginalized
entities. They aren't the favored sons and daughters of their locality.
After all they are relegated to living in the poison land area. If they
should put together a CDC, use CDBG, EDA, EZ/EC funds, they would find
themselves caught in the existing political economy that has helped maintain
the condition in which the brownfields issue found them.

The state, as representative of the local power structure, finds itself in a
position where it must expend huge amounts of money, sanction some of the
economic and political powers, and otherwise threaten the financial
viability of its local power structure inorder to carry out its
responsibilities to EPA under it primacy commitments. The alternative is to
have EPA take back the small portion of shared power and implement the
requirements of the law.

In Delaware this fast escalating dilemma takes concrete shape in the runoff
problems posed by the huge chicken industry in the lower part of the state.
Delaware may be the largest chicken growing state in the nation. The chicken
sh.. is pervasive. There is a question re its contribution to the pfesteria
problem. In the northern, urban, part of the state the concentration of
hazardous waste sites is dense. In the small city of Wilmington, 14 sq. mi.
and 72,000 people, there are 80 hazardous waste sites known; two emergency
removal actions within the last 6 months; one or two Superfund sites; and
we've just begun. Oh, by the way, Delaware, the home of DuPont, Hercules,
and others, is the chemical capital of the world. Wilmington is the largest,
and only, urban center in the state.


Tony Chenhansa wrote:

> Original Message --------
> From: Cynthia Valencic <cvalencic@lewisweb.net>
> Organization: Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation, Inc. (LEAF)
> EPA gives states "primacy" to operate specific programs in accordance
> with federal law as opposed to EPA operating the program. For example,
> Florida has primacy for Florida's underground injection control program.
> Thus, Florida's program  has to operate under and meet the minimum
> standard requirements of the federal safe drinking water act. Primacy is
> granted for a number of programs such as underground injection, NPDES,
> etc. I find it odd that EPA would suggest pulling a program however. In
> Alabama LEAF has clearly shown that Alabama was not operating its
> underground injection control program in accordance with SDWA and we've
> had to go to court to get it either corrected or the program primacy
> pulled. Same thing with Florida. Other regional EPA's may be more
> forward thinking.
> Cynthia Valencic
> --
> Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation, Inc. (LEAF)
> 1114 Thomasville Road, Suite E, Tallahassee, FL 32303-6290
> (850) 681-2591 (phone), (850) 224-1275 (fax)
> cvalencic@lewisweb.net (email), leaf@lewisweb.net (email)

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