STATEMENT OF TIMOTHY
MARCH 4, 1997
TIMOTHY FIELDS, JR.
ACTING ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR
OFFICE OF SOLID WASTE AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE
U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
MARCH 4, 1997
Good morning, Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Committee. I am pleased to have this opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the current state of the Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative. I am also pleased to have the opportunity to begin these discussions within the context of legislative reforms to the Superfund program. I am, of course, preceding Administrator Browner, who will be testifying before you tomorrow. Her testimony will provide a broader perspective and context for discussion of the substantial accomplishments EPA has achieved over the past few years through its administrative reforms of Superfund. It will also provide the framework for legislative reforms that will address the remaining barriers to success for the Superfund program and that can help us achieve responsible legislative reform in this Congress.
My purpose today is threefold: 1) to share with you the substantial accomplishments EPA has achieved since the initiation of the Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative in 1995 and the very positive linkages these activities are engendering among other key stakeholders; 2) to identify key EPA brownfields legislative principles for you; and 3) to examine the reflection of those principles in legislation now before this Committee and the U.S. Senate for consideration - S. 8 and S. 18.
BROWNFIELDS ECONOMIC REDEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE
EPA is promoting redevelopment of abandoned and contaminated properties across the country that were once used for industrial and commercial purposes ("brownfields"). While the full extent of the brownfields problem is unknown, the United States General Accounting Office (GAO\RCED-95-172, June 1995) estimates that approximately 450,000 brownfields sites exist in this country, affecting virtually every community in the nation. EPA believes that environmental cleanup is a building block, not a stumbling block, to economic development, and that cleaning up contaminated property must go hand-in-hand with bringing life and economic vitality back to communities. EPA's Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative places a new focus on brownfields. The Brownfields reforms are directed toward empowering States, local governments, communities, and others to work together to assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse these sites. As the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) said "[W]e wholeheartedly support the EPA's Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative. NCRC believes that [EPA's] multifaceted initiative represents a significant step forward by the Administration in working with distressed communities on the local level in their revitalization efforts." EPA efforts, to date, have been accomplished through the Brownfields Action Agenda - an outline of specific actions the Agency is conducting.
Brownfields Action Agenda
The initial Brownfields Action Agenda announced on January 25, 1995, outlined four key areas of action for returning brownfields to productive reuse: 1. awarding Brownfields Assessment Demonstration Pilots; 2. building partnerships to all Brownfields stakeholders; 3. clarifying liability and cleanup issues; and, 4. fostering local workforce development and job training initiatives.
Brownfields Pilots are Encouraging Redevelopment
The Brownfields Assessment Pilots form a major component of the Brownfields Action Agenda. Chosen through a competitive process, these pilots are helping communities articulate a reuse strategy that demonstrates model opportunities to organize public and private sector support, leverage financing, while actively demonstrating the economic and environmental benefits of reclaiming brownfield contaminated sites. The Brownfield pilots will develop information and strategies that promote a unified approach to site assessment, environmental cleanup, and redevelopment. In addition, these pilots are providing opportunities to stimulate jobs and economic activity. EPA exceeded its early commitment to fund at least 50 pilots by actually funding 76 pilots at up to $200,000 each by the end of 1996. And, just this month, the Administrator announced the addition of two more pilots, bringing the total to 78. These two-year pilots are intended to generate further interest in Brownfields redevelopment across the country. Many different communities are participating, ranging from small towns to large cities. Stakeholders tell the Agency that Brownfields redevelopment activities could not have occurred in the absence of EPA efforts.
Brownfields Partnerships Build Future Solutions
The Brownfields Initiative is clearly about partnerships -- with other Federal, State, and local agencies, and a diverse array of stakeholders. The EPA has undertaken partnership efforts with individual States as well as through broad organizational structures like the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO), the National Governors Association (NGA), and the National Association of State Development Agencies (NASDA). Federal partnerships have been fostered, in particular, through Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs). EPA has signed MOUs with the Economic Development Administration of the Department of Commerce, the Departments of Labor, Housing and Urban Development, and Interior. EPA is working with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and county health officials to address the health concerns of brownfields communities. EPA also forged working relationships with a vast spectrum of other stakeholders, including the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, the Irvine Foundation's Center for Land Recycling, NASDA, ASTSWMO, International City/County Management Association (ICMA), to mention but a few. Other outreach efforts include coordination of brownfields efforts with the Agency's Common Sense Initiative.
Ultimately, it is the voice of the community that all brownfields stakeholders hear. The recently released report, Building A Brownfields Partnership from the Ground Up, by the National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals, February 13, 1997, presented the views of a network of local government brownfields leaders on the value of EPA's brownfields programs and policies. The report calls local government leaders "a key link in the success of brownfields partnerships, for it is the environmental, health, development and political leaders in our cities, counties and towns who can best build a brownfields partnership 'from the ground up'." EPA has developed its brownfield capacity for outreach through each of its ten regions. Each region has a designated "Brownfields Coordinator" to assist and oversee the brownfields pilots and other actions under the Brownfields Initiative. We believe our Brownfields Coordinators are the most effective link to communities and form the linchpin of success under the Brownfields Action Agenda. In addition, EPA has assigned staff members to cities around the country (e.g., Detroit, Los Angeles, Dallas, East Palo Alto) through Intergovernmental Personnel Assignments (IPA) to further support brownfields activities.
These partnerships and those that we will develop in the future represent new ways of doing business with communities. We are working hard to continue to improve communication and coordination among all stakeholders. In this regard, we are encouraged by the increasing linkage being made between brownfields redevelopment and environmental justice. The National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) released its report, Environmental Justice, Urban Revitalization, and Brownfields: The Search for Authentic Signs of Hope." in July of last year. Recommendations from the NEJAC are the result of a series of public hearings held in five cities (Boston, MA; Philadelphia, PA; Detroit, MI; Oakland, CA; and Atlanta, GA). These recommendations will be used to address not only past mistakes of urban planning but also to benefit brownfields identification and redevelopment.
Redevelopment Barriers - Addressing Liability Concerns
The Agency also committed to addressing the threat of liability and other barriers impeding the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields. Over the past year, EPA has announced a variety of guidance and initiatives that have had a positive impact among Brownfields stakeholders in terms of removing uncertainties often associated with brownfields properties. EPA is promoting redevelopment of brownfields properties by protecting prospective purchasers, lenders, and property owners from the threat of Superfund liability. EPA's "prospective purchaser" policy is stimulating the development of sites of Federal interest where parties otherwise may have been reluctant to take action by clarifying (through agreements known as "prospective purchaser agreements" (PPAs) that bona fide prospective purchasers will not be responsible for cleaning up sites provided they do not further contribute to or worsen contamination. EPA issued new guidance in May 1995, which allowed the Agency greater flexibility in entering into such agreements. The new guidance expanded the universe of sites eligible for such agreements to include instances where there is a substantial benefit to the community in terms of cleanup, creation of jobs, or development of property. Of the 50 agreements to date, more than 50% have been reached since issuance of the May 1995 guidance. Environmental justice advocates see these agreements as providing a new flexibility that will assist the consideration of environmentally sustainable enterprises occupying former brownfields sites next to residential areas, or of converting past industrial properties to green spaces or non-polluting commercial operations.
People owning property under which hazardous substances have migrated through groundwater also feared liability under the statute. EPA responded by announcing that it will not take enforcement actions under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) against owners of property situated above contaminated ground water, provided the property is not a source of contamination. Further, EPA also will consider providing protection to such property owners from third party lawsuits through a settlement that affords contribution protection.
EPA has given reassurance to the lending industry and to governmental entities who acquire property involuntarily. EPA outlined in guidance what it considered appropriate actions a lender may undertake without becoming a liable party. In the 104th Congress, EPA worked with concerned White House offices (including the Council on Environmental Quality and the National Economic Council) in a successful effort to gain legislation to clarify the liability of lenders and fiduciaries under CERCLA and other toxic waste laws. This reform, which was developed through a bipartisan effort involving this Committee and the Senate Banking Committee, reflected the principles of EPA's own policy guidance as well as the approach Senator Lautenberg had developed for his earlier brownfields bill. The resulting proposal was incorporated into a broader banking reform bill enacted in the final days of the Congress as part of the continuing budget resolution. This change in the law will provide significant relief to banks and lending institutions, expand the availability of credit for small businesses, and greatly facilitate the assessment, cleanup, and redevelopment of brownfields sites. We were also pleased to have the support of the Bankers Roundtable, the American Bankers Association, and the Environmental Defense fund in achieving this reform.
EPA also is providing "comfort/status letters" in appropriate circumstances to new owners, lenders, or developers to inform them of EPA's intentions at the site. The Policy on the Issuance of Comfort/Status Letters is designed to assist parties who seek to cleanup and reuse brownfields. EPA often receives requests from parties for some level of "comfort" that if they purchase, develop, or operate on brownfield property, EPA will not pursue them for the costs to clean up any contamination resulting from the previous use. The policy contains four sample comfort/status letters which address the most common inquiries for information that EPA receives regarding contaminated or potentially contaminated properties. The policy aims at using such "comfort" to where it may facilitate the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields, where there is a realistic perception or probability of incurring Superfund liability, and where there is no other mechanism available to adequately address the party's concerns.
Finally, EPA believes that the removal of sites from the active Federal inventory, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Information System (CERCLIS), is having positive repercussions for the Brownfields Initiative. To date, EPA has removed approximately 30,000 sites from CERCLIS, about 75% of the Federal inventory. EPA expects to remove more than 1,000 additional sites from CERCLIS per year over the next several years. The removal of these sites eliminates the stigma of potential contamination and fear of liability associated with these sites, and allows stakeholders to focus on the future land use and redevelopment of such sites. Brownfields Job Development and Training
Brownfields may be a consequence of industrial downsizing, relocation
or bankruptcy. The loss of jobs may also result. Training members
of brownfields communities to fill potential jobs created as a
result of cleanup and redevelopment efforts is a critical component
of the Brownfields Initiative, particularly for groups representing
dislocated workers, welfare recipients, or the chronically unemployed.
EPA committed as an Agency to environmental workforce training
programs in brownfields communities throughout the country. Efforts
successfully underway include the following:
--- Work with the Hazardous Materials Training and Research Institute to expand environmental training and curriculum development at community colleges located near brownfields pilots. Since 1995, three workshops for 40 colleges in or near Brownfields communities have been held. Of the colleges attending these workshops, 13 have established credit and noncredit environmental programs, 13 have target dates for program start-up, and 14 are collecting data and conducting labor market surveys to determine the need for and feasibility of starting a program.
--- Establishment of an environmental education and training center to provide comprehensive technician-level training with an emphasis on Superfund and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)-related subjects with the Rio Hondo Community College District in Whittier, California.
--- A partnership with Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, to develop training programs that increase cultural diversity in environmental employment.
--- Working with the Department of Labor collaboration with EPA to leverage job training opportunities for Brownfields Pilot communities.
--- Working with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to ensure that Minority Worker Training grants overlap with Brownfields pilot communities.
--- Working to incorporate the Housing and Urban Development Department's Step-up Apprenticeship Initiative with community jobs strategies for Brownfields.
The Brownfields Initiative Today
By mid-1996, EPA completed all of its commitments on the initial Action Agenda. It has become clear to us that the brownfields problem requires more interaction among all levels of government, the private sector and non-governmental organizations. The need for continuation and expansion of the national brownfields response was further buttressed by the recommendations of the President's Council on Sustainable Development regarding the redevelopment of brownfields sites. To that end, EPA and more than 20 other Federal agencies established an Interagency Working group on Brownfields in July 1996. Our colleagues at HUD and the Department of Transportation (DOT), for example, play a critical role in brownfields redevelopment. Through our Working Group collaborations, we are planning ways to further identify, strengthen, and improve commitments to brownfields, while continuing efforts toward a comprehensive, community-based approach to cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated property. The new Brownfields Action Agenda for FY 97 and FY 98 is based on protecting human health and the environment, enhancing public participation in local decision-making, building safe and sustainable communities through public/private partnerships; and, recognizing that environmental protection can be the engine that drives economic redevelopment.
EPA's brownfields efforts this year will include the announcement of an additional 25 Brownfields Assessment Demonstration Pilots (up to $200,000 each). The application deadline for award of these new pilots is now past and EPA is in the process of reviewing and evaluating the applications. Award announcements are expected by late March or April of 1997.
For the first time, EPA will be awarding funds for a new type of brownfields pilot. The $10 million Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund (BRLF) pilot program is designed to enable eligible States, cities, towns and counties, U.S. Territories, and Indian Tribes to capitalize revolving loan funds to safely cleanup and sustainably reuse brownfields. EPA's goal is to select BRLF pilots that will serve as models for other communities across the nation. Only entities that were awarded National or Regional Brownfields Assessment Demonstration Pilots as of September 30, 1995, will be eligible to apply to EPA's BRLF pilot program. Therefore, up to 29 BRLF pilots may be awarded in FY 97. Fiscal year 1997 BRLF pilots will be funded at up to $350,000. The BRLF pilots will be awarded through a competitive process.
EPA recognizes the important role that State environmental agencies have in encouraging economic redevelopment of brownfields. EPA also plans to provide $10 million, in FY97, to encourage the development or enhancement of State programs that encourage private parties to voluntarily undertake early protective cleanups of less seriously contaminated sites, thus accelerating their cleanup and redevelopment. EPA recently issued a memorandum setting out an interim approach for its relations with State voluntary cleanup programs. The memorandum includes criteria for State voluntary cleanup programs that are enabling EPA and the States to start negotiating a division of labor between EPA and the States in memoranda of agreement (MOAs) as well as ensuring protection of public health and the environment. EPA hosted a meeting here in Washington on February 27th to continue our dialogue with stakeholders and to solicit their views on a variety of voluntary cleanup issues. We will use that input to develop principles and national guidance on State voluntary cleanup programs. Finally, EPA is pleased with the progress it has made in signing MOAs with States. Ten States have now signed MOAs with EPA regarding sites to be cleaned up under voluntary cleanup programs. Both Rhode Island and Maryland have signed MOAs with EPA in the last few weeks. We are in the process of negotiating with 8 other States.
Other elements for the FY 97 program include additional support for an expanded site assessment initiative as well as technical assistance to existing pilots and partnerships with other Federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
KEY ELEMENTS OF BROWNFIELDS LEGISLATIVE REFORM
The Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative has achieved much initial success. The continuing value of the Brownfields Initiative is its evolution and promise for the future. To build upon these successful first steps and launch others, we must not lose sight of our overall goal to revitalize communities. Future efforts under the Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative must be viewed as an important component of any strategy for reform of Superfund. With the breadth and variety of activities and stakeholders converging on the brownfields issue, we have tried to establish a framework that articulates a complete and comprehensive brownfields program. It is against this framework that we will measure legislative proposals addressing brownfields.
Address Full Range of Brownfields Reforms
Brownfields reforms made under CERCLA should be codified, and should reaffirm use of the Superfund Trust Fund to address the full range of brownfield issues including: technical assistance funding for brownfields identification, assessment and reuse planning, cooperative agreement funding to capitalize revolving loan funds for brownfields cleanup, support for State development of voluntary cleanup programs, liability protection to bona fide prospective purchasers, protection for innocent landowners of contaminated property, support for mechanisms for partnering with Federal, State, local and tribal governments and other non-governmental entities to address Brownfields, and support and long-term planning for fostering training and workforce development.
By the end of FY 1997, more than 100 communities will have received grants from EPA for brownfields assessment pilots. The United States Conference of Mayors has stated regarding the FY 1998 budget which has just been proposed by the Administrator that the "budget reflects the fact that momentum for brownfields redevelopment, one of the mayors' highest priorities, is building."
The Administration is also supportive of the continued growth of the State and Tribal regulated and voluntary programs which have greatly expanded the number of hazardous waste sites cleaned up to protect human health and the environment. More than 30 States have established voluntary cleanup programs to date.
EPA has sought to integrate job training opportunities into brownfields cleanup and redevelopment and is supported in this endeavor by the President's Environmental Initiative. Forging these vital links between jobs and environmental cleanup is both challenging and encouraging to us. Our pilots are providing specific examples. In Bridgeport, Connecticut, one of EPA's first pilot cities, a job summit was held as part of its public outreach strategy. The pilot in Cleveland, Ohio is now home to several new businesses which have provided almost 200 new jobs. And, in Baltimore at the former American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) site, old buildings are being razed, and 350,000 of the 750,000 square foot complex is being renovated. Currently there are 200 construction workers employed on the property. Additionally, it is expected that more than 180 permanent jobs will be in place over the next three years.
EPA primarily supports the job training and workforce development aspect of the Brownfields Initiative with non-Superfund general appropriations. Section 311(a) of CERCLA provides limited authority for training and continuing education within the context of hazardous substance basic research. As part of a comprehensive strategy for brownfields, we are also examining ways to address these statutory limitations.
Presidential Initiatives Support Brownfields Tax Incentive
Innovative approaches and solutions to the problems faced by communities are manifested in every aspect of brownfields. Innovative financing efforts are no exception. The federal government can help level the economic playing field between brownfields and greenfield sites. Last year, in his 1996 State of the Union address, President Clinton proposed a Brownfields tax incentive. Senators Moseley-Braun, Lieberman, Abraham and others have introduced this proposal in the Senate (S. 235). (A companion bill, H.R. 505, has been introduced in the House by Congressman Rangel). We support this proposal and believe it is an essential element of a complete and comprehensive brownfields program. Under the proposed Brownfields tax incentive, environmental cleanup costs for properties in designated areas would be fully deductible in the year in which they are incurred, rather than capitalized. This incentive would reduce the capital cost for these types of investments by more than one half.
The proposed tax incentive would be applicable to properties that meet specified land use, contamination, and geographic requirements. To satisfy the land use requirement, the property must be held by the taxpayer incurring the eligible expenses for use in a trade or business or for the production of income, or the property must be properly included in the taxpayer's inventory. To satisfy the contamination requirement, hazardous substances must be present or potentially present on the property. To meet the geographic requirement, the property must be located in one of the following areas: EPA Brownfields pilot areas designated prior to February 1, 1997; census tracts where 20 percent or more of the population is below the poverty level; census tracts that have a population under 2,000, have 75 percent or more land zoned for industrial or commercial use, and are adjacent to one or more census tracts with a poverty rate of 20 percent or more; and Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities (both existing and those that would be designated in the second round proposed in the President's FY1998 budget). Both rural and urban sites would qualify for the proposed incentive. Sites on EPA's National Priorities List would be excluded.
Support Environmental Initiative
Last August, the Clinton Administration announced an Environmental Initiative which supported the significant expansion of the Brownfields program. We estimate that with the expansion of the Brownfields Assessment Pilots and the BRLF Pilots, a total of 300 cities/pilots can be reached resulting in cleanup at many thousands of brownfields sites over the next four years. In addition, the Initiative called for additional support for State Voluntary Cleanup infrastructure and brownfields related job training efforts. Many of these proposals are reflected in the President's Budget for fiscal year 1998.
The Environmental Initiative also supported an expansion of HUD's Economic Development Initiative (EDI) grants and use of HUD section 108 loan guarantees to leverage brownfields redevelopment funds.
EPA urges the Committee to support these components of the President's Budget as we work together on other statutory changes that will not only enhance our ability to implement these proposals, but also enable us to forge stronger partnerships with States, local governments, communities, and private interests and successfully accelerate brownfields revitalization.
CONCERNS WITH S. 8
The Administration supports brownfields legislation within the context of Superfund legislative reform. We are supportive of legislation which continues the progress made under the EPA's administrative reforms and which also addresses brownfields itself in a comprehensive manner.
EPA is very encouraged to see substantial Brownfields provisions, as well as voluntary cleanup program provisions, within S.8. The bill authorizes EPA to issue grants for assessment and to capitalize revolving loan funds, although the details are of some concern to us. The provision which exempts "bona fide" prospective purchasers from CERCLA liability and the requirements that must be met to assert an innocent landholder defense are also valuable additions to our authority. As with other aspects of S. 8, however, we are concerned that the brownfields provisions would erode protection of human health and the environment.
Voluntary Cleanup Program Concerns
The Administration is opposed to provisions in S. 8 regarding voluntary cleanup that would eliminate the authority of EPA and other Federal agencies to respond to releases of hazardous substances whenever a State remedial action plan has been prepared, whether under a voluntary response program, or any other State program. Under S. 8, the mere existence of such a cleanup plan eliminates any federal authority to respond to a release or threatened release of hazardous substances - even where there may be an imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment. This compromise of public protection is alarming. The provisions of S. 8 could leave us powerless to respond to immediate threats from the worst toxic waste sites (VRPs are given authority to cleanup NPL sites) even where the State's VRP program lacks the resources and expertise to "qualify" under the provisions of S. 8.
Though S.8 provides the elements for "qualifying" State voluntary cleanup programs, these elements are not used to make funding decisions. A State is required to merely notify EPA of its "intent to establish a qualifying State voluntary response program" to receive funding. Funding for States is provided at $25 million per fiscal year. While S. 8 identifies elements for a "qualifying" State Voluntary Response Program (VRP), these provisions do not preclude a private party from cleaning up a site, including an NPL site, pursuant to a State VRP that does not meet, or intend to meet, the "qualifying" elements. Under this bill, States without a "qualifying" program may authorize such cleanups so long as they do not request or receive technical or other assistance, including funding from EPA.
In addition, the level of community involvement provided by S.8 is questionable. The bill limits the community to an "adequate opportunity" for public involvement and does not guarantee participation in all levels of the cleanup process or determinations regarding end uses of the property. Finally, the preclusion of all private and citizen suits belies the apparent commitment in S. 8 to strengthen community participation.
As mentioned, EPA is already developing MOAs with concerned States to ensure that its response authorities complement and encourage rather than duplicate or discourage, voluntary cleanups. This approach, we believe, strikes the right balance between Federal and State programs while continuing to provide the needed protection of public health and the environment for our communities.
Brownfields Characterization and Assessment Grants Do Not
One of the major concerns with S.8's Brownfields characterization grants provision is the exclusion of States from the list of eligible recipients. EPA's experience with the Brownfields Pilot Program has taught us that in many cases, where small communities are involved it may make more sense and be more efficient to provide the grants directly to States. Six brownfields pilots have been awarded directly to States. We are also finding that the availability of pilots at this level of government can increase awareness of and involvement in the program.
Additionally, the limitation on funding of $100,000 per year for these grants may restrict and inhibit the grant recipient from efficiently managing and benefiting from the grant itself. Under the current brownfields program, EPA does not limit funding or proscribe activities on a site-specific basis. Rather, EPA pilot funds are awarded to State, Tribal, and municipal governments, which then determine, based on their own priorities and resources, activities and allocations among different brownfields sites.
Another concern is found in the definition of Brownfields. S.8 improperly excludes sites where removals have occurred, or are planned to occur, and sites deleted from the NPL with "No Action" RODs. These sites may be appropriate candidates for redevelopment. In addition, EPA has first-hand experience with prospective purchaser redevelopment of these properties.
Finally, we are concerned that the application for a characterization pilot would require information which may not be available until after the Brownfields process has been completed. Inventorying sites and casting economic projections have been, in our experience, within the range of activities for which the pilot is being awarded in the first place. Thus, the pilot applicant may find itself in the proverbial "catch-22" situation - unable to complete the application to do the very thing that should be done under the pilot.
Before concluding my discussion this morning, I would like to mention S. 18, The Brownfields and Environmental Cleanup Act of 1997, introduced by Senator Lautenberg (and Senators Baucus, Reid, Moynihan, Graham, Boxer, Wyden, Levin, Torricelli, Breaux, and Kennedy). This bill addresses many of the barriers that are preventing the cleanup and economic development of brownfields. It promotes many of the brownfields cleanup and economic development goals shared by the Clinton Administration and builds upon many of the lessons learned by EPA over the past three years as the Agency developed and implemented its Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative. The bill authorizes EPA to issue grants to State and local governments to inventory and assess brownfields sites as well as providing grants for States and local governments to capitalize revolving loan funds for the cleanup and economic redevelopment of brownfields sites. Other provisions of the bill which capture important elements of the existing program include those referring to prospective purchasers and innocent landowners. They are important tools that will encourage lending and investment institutions to fund brownfields redevelopment. The I would add, however, that we do see some drafting problems with the bill and have been assured by Senator Lautenberg that his staff will work with us to address those concerns. Our most significant concern is the inadequate level of funding provided in this bill to support brownfields activities.
EPA's Brownfields Economic Redevelopment Initiative represents an innovative approach to environmental protection while bringing the focus of that protection directly to communities. It has spurred environmental cleanup, reduced neighborhood blight, generated tax revenues, and created jobs and in so doing it has helped to stabilize and enrich communities. Through this Initiative we have identified innovative ways to address the brownfields problem in the United States, which will assist us during the discussion of legislative reform.
The Clinton Administration believes that a comprehensive approach to brownfields legislative reform would include support for all the existing elements of the current program, as well as the brownfields tax incentive. We believe that brownfields legislative reform should be addressed within the context of responsible legislative reform of the Superfund statute. The Administration is fully committed to participating in that process and to seeing that responsible reform of the Superfund law is the proud legacy of the 105th Congress.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for this opportunity to address the Committee. I would be pleased to answer any questions you or the other Members may have.