1999 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: "Peter B. Meyer" <pbmeye02@athena.louisville.edu>
Date: Tue, 4 May 1999 16:19:54 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Re: Definition, VCPs, and Brownfields
Lenny is 100% correct: CERCLA excludes petroleum-only sites, thus
neither the NPL-related activities, nor the Brownfield Pilots, nor the
Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Funds can address petroleum-only
contaminated sites. 

HOWEVER, and Kristen tried to make this point, the EPA definition of a
"brownfield" does NOT make this exclusion -- and thus is a useful common
frame for discussing the issue of policies toward brownfields.

This subject arose from the Peter Strauss - Kristen Yount exchange that
Peter broadcast, and reflects a serious confusion. Let me illustrate
from that discussion: 

     Peter Strauss noted that "As a follow-up to Peter Meyer's
response,  not all voluntary cleanup programs (VCPs) apply to
"Brownfield" sites.  I have seen many non-brownfield type sites in
California where a VCP was entered into."

     However, under the EPA brownfield definition we have read again
today, the occurrence Peter Strauss describes is simply not possible,
except for previously residential sites:
    Q 	-- why would any site go through a VCP if it did not have to?
    A	-- when its "expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or
PERCEIVED environmental 		contamination." (-- my emphasis.)
Thus, what Peter S. described involves a definition of a brownfield very
different from that used by EPA (and, increasingly, by the other related
agencies, both state and federal.)

	This discussion pivots on the definition - and it is more than mere
nit-picking: in Pennsylvania, for example, many sites that they state
agency said were "below their horizon" with respect to levels of
pollution get pushed through the state VCP to provide extra secutiry to
the buyers -- and, not incidentally, possibly get a higher sale price
for the sellers. Since the state offers the VCP reivew and certification
process for free, is it subsidizing land prices with dollars that should
ideally go for other environmental protection purposes?

	Unless we are clear on what kinds of sites we are talking about, we
cannot get to the position of asking the last question -- that is why
EPA tried to generate a standardized definition (and why, I believe)
they went beyond a definition limited exclusing petroleum-only sites.

	Can we move to a convention of meaning the EPA definition except when
we explicitly say otherwise?

(Tony - can you offer the definition in the automtic acknowledgement you
send to new subscribers to CPEO-BF?  It might help us all)

Peter M.

Peter B. Meyer
Professor of Economics and Urban Policy
Director, Center for Environmental Management
 and Environmental Finance Center
University of Louisville
426 W. Bloom Street / Louisville, KY 40208
(502) 852-8032    Fax: (502) 852-4558

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