1999 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: "Peter B. Meyer" <pbmeye02@athena.louisville.edu>
Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 12:35:44 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Re: Definition, VCPs, and Brownfields

Emery Graham seems to feel the issue of what is a "brownfield" is
irrelevant to the issue of commitment to do something about contaminated
sites that threaten human health and the environment. In this I can
agree completely. However, he seems to object to my trying to make some
fine line distinctions, as though doing so implies that i do not care
about particular contaminants. Here, I must disagree. 

First, if we fail to recognize what the people we talk with mean when
they use a term, we cannot work with them - or even against them - as
effectively as if we understand them. Thus the pattern of usage of the
term "brownfields" is important. 

Second, if we don't want to "pay the private sector to clean up," but
want to use existing legislation to try to get companies to actually pay
for cleaning up costs they imposed on the rest of society and did not
internalize, then we need to understand the tools available to us. Here,
it is essential to understand that some legislation - and thus the
regulations that flow from the laws - makes a distinction between
different types of contaminants. 

Those of us who are careful about the distinction do not necessarily
claim some contaminants are "less important" than others, but simply
that different tools can be used to tackle different contamination

(I guess that I don't dare open up this discussion any more by pointing
out that there are lots of contaminated sites that do not fit any legal
definition of a "hazardous waste site," a term Emery offered as a
definition of a brownfield.)

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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