On My Mind: Applause for EPA?

Basically, I'm pretty skeptical of just about anything EPA does.

Basically, I'm pretty skeptical of just about anything EPA does. And, according to a few rumors I've heard concerning the Strategic Goals Program, there are some finishers who feel the same way right about now.

But, I have to give credit where credit is due. And, it appears that EPA deserves some in regards to its brownfields program. What is a brownfield? According to EPA, a brownfield is an abandoned, idled or under used industrial or commercial facility where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived contamination.

Through this program, EPA is encouraging developers, employers and local governments, through grants and other funding, to clean up these sites, turning them into usable real estate. The sites do not need to be remediated to a pristine condition, but only to a condition suitable to the site's future use. After the cleanup, the state or federal government will issue a covenant not to sue, removing all liability from the developer and new owner for previous environmental conditions.

To date, the brownfields program has generated 1,400 cleanup jobs and 5,000 redevelopment jobs in the communities performing the cleanup work. While I typically view EPA as hindering industry and eliminating jobs, in this instance, EPA is actually creating jobs. The program has also produced a leveraged economic impact of $2.3 billion for communities with a remediated brownfield site.

So, the program is benefiting local communities. But, how does this program help finishers? By purchasing a remediated brownfield, you might be able to build your new plant in a good geographic location near an urban center with a large workforce. It might be the only land available. Perhaps you could buy the brownfield at a cheaper price than you could a "green" site. Or, maybe the local government is willing to provide you some tax incentives or abatements. Plus, you might even generate a little good will from the local community.

If you are interested in learning more about brownfields, go to www.epa.gov/brownfields. Also, EPA is conducting the Brownfields 2000 Conference October 11-13.