1999 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: peter strauss <pstrauss@igc.apc.org>
Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 10:15:53 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Re: Definition, VCPs, and Brownfields

I was looking through the recent discussion on definitions and these
paragraphs stuck out:

>      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.)

My experience in California leads to a different answer to the question
you posed. I would say that owners of property that are contaminated are
motivated by easier and less burdensome regulatory oversight. In one
instance where I have been very involved, the owner of the property
(i.e., the Federal Gov't) has entered into a VCP not because of
development pressure but because it wants to avoid stricter regulation,
and avoid being cast into the CERCLA net.  In another instance, due to
litigation by a community group that alleged that developing a dirty
site would lead to contaminant migration, the private owner of the site
entered into a VCP which was less stringent than if it fell under
another jurisdiction.  

In the broad definition of brownfields (i.e., Abandoned,idled, or
under-used industrial and commercial facilities where
expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived
environmental contamination), one could say that these VCPs dealt with
"brownfields". However, in the first case, the motive was to avoid
stricter oversight - there were no plans for expansion or redevelopment.
In the latter case, the VCP was entered into before the term
"brownfields" had found its way into common lexicon. The VCP got the
developer out of a hole by avoiding cleanup requirements that the
community had requested.

Peter Strauss

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