Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Subcommittee, my name is Myrtle Walker, and I am the Mayor of the City of East Palo Alto, California. Thank you for inviting me to testify today on behalf of the National Association of Local Government Environmental Professionals, or "NALGEP." I especially thank Senator Barbara Boxer for her invitation to be here. NALGEP appreciates the opportunity to present this testimony on the views of local government officials from across the nation on the need for federal brownfields legislation to support the cleanup, redevelopment and productive reuse of brownfields sites. Today, I wish to convey how S.350, the "Brownfields Revitalization and Environmental Restoration Act of 2001," would meet the needs of American communities to promote brownfields revitalization.
NALGEP represents local government officials responsible for ensuring environmental compliance, and developing and implementing environmental policies and programs. NALGEP's membership consists of more than 140 local government entities located throughout the United States. NALGEP represents many of the leading brownfields communities in the country such as Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Anaheim and other communities in California; Providence, Rhode Island; Richmond, Virginia; Enid, Oklahoma; Portland, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Trenton, New Jersey; Rochester, Glen Cove, North Hempstead, and other communities in New York; and Columbus, Cincinnati, Cuyahoga County and many other communities in Ohio, to name a few.
In 1995, NALGEP initiated a brownfields project to determine local government views on national brownfields initiatives such as the EPA Brownfields Action Agenda. The NALGEP brownfields project culminated in a report, entitled Building a Brownfields Partnership from the Ground Up: Local Government Views on the Value and Promise of National Brownfields Initiatives, which was issued in February, 1997. That report called for new federal resources to support brownfields revitalization, particularly cleanup. The report also called for new liability clarification, new resources and partnerships for brownfields revitalization, and authority for states to take a lead in voluntary brownfields cleanup. As this Committee knows, local governments have sought federal brownfields law for many years now.
During the past few years, NALGEP has continued its work on brownfields through coordinating projects involving local officials to address the following issues: (1) Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Funds; (2) use of HUD Community Development Block Grants for brownfields; (3) initiatives to reduce sprawl and promote smart growth; (4) training workshops for localities on brownfields revitalization; and (5) implementation of the Administration's Brownfields Showcase Community initiative. As a result of these efforts, NALGEP is well qualified to provide the Subcommittee with a representative view of how local governments, and their environmental and development professionals, believe the nation must move ahead to create long-term success in the revitalization of brownfields properties.
NALGEP's testimony today will focus on the following areas:
(1) the urgent need for increased federal funding to support the assessment, cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields sites across the country;
(2) the need for liability clarification to encourage states, localities, and the private sector to step forward and revitalize more sites, while preserving the safety net of U.S. EPA involvement in exceptional circumstances;
(3) the need for federal brownfields legislation to provide funding for the cleanup of brownfields blighted by lead, asbestos and petroleum; and
(4) the need to facilitate the participation of other federal agencies, such as the Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in local brownfields initiatives.
Overall, our view of the opportunity created by S.350 is straightforward - this bill provides critical, positive support to local governments who badly need resources and regulatory incentives for the revitalization of America's brownfields. S. 350 is one of the most important environmental initiatives undertaken by the U.S. Congress, and there is no better time or opportunity to enact this important legislation.
The cleanup and revitalization of brownfields represents one of the most exciting, and most challenging, environmental and economic initiatives in the Nation. Brownfields are abandoned, idled, or under-used properties where expansion or redevelopment is hindered by real or perceived contamination. The brownfields challenge faces virtually every community; experts estimate that there may be as many as 500,000 brownfields sites throughout the country.
The brownfields issue illustrates the connection among environmental, economic and community goals that can be simultaneously fostered through a combination of national leadership, state incentives, and the innovation of local and private sector leaders. Cleaning up and redeveloping brownfields provides many environmental, economic and community benefits including:
* expediting the cleanup of thousands of contaminated sites;
* renewing local economies by stimulating redevelopment, creating jobs, expanding the local tax base, and enhancing the vitality of communities; and
* limiting sprawl and its associated environmental problems such as air pollution, water pollution, traffic and the development of rapidly disappearing open spaces.
EAST PALO ALTO'S BROWNFIELDS INITIATIVES
The City of East Palo Alto is a community that demonstrates the great challenges and opportunities presented by brownfields. East Palo Alto is a small community of 25,000 people that has never enjoyed the economic prosperity of its neighboring communities in Silicon Valley. The City has the highest levels of unemployment and poverty and lowest median income in San Mateo County. In addition, the City has struggled to significantly reduce its crime rate, which was one of the highest in the nation in the early 1990s. A major stumbling block to overcoming these problems is the brownfields contamination that impacts a substantial portion of our land, left behind from decades of industrial waste, illegal dumping and pesticide pollution. Because of this brownfields contamination, East Palo Alto suffers from a lack of investment in the transportation, utility and economic infrastructure necessary to revitalize abandoned and unproductive areas in our community.
However, the City is successfully moving forward to revitalize our community. East Palo Alto was selected by a partnership of 20 federal agencies as one of the first Brownfields Showcase Communities nationwide. As part of the Showcase initiative, we are working with federal and state agencies to promote sustainable environmental cleanup and economic development.
Our focus is the Ravenswood Industrial Area and the adjacent Four Corners redevelopment area. The Ravenswood Industrial Area, a large, contiguous region of approximately 130 developable acres in a historically mixed agricultural, commercial and industrial area, was designated as a U.S. EPA Brownfields Assessment Pilot in 1996. The property is affected by a multitude of toxic substances, including arsenic, chromium and other heavy metals, pesticides and herbicides, chlorinated solvents and petroleum contamination. The City partnered with U.S. EPA Region 9 and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board to assess the site. The value of these brownfields assessment resources is demonstrated by East Palo Alto's experience. For many years the private sector avoided the Ravenswood Industrial Area because its past history led many to believe that cleanup costs could top $30 million. With the help of environmental assessment resources, we now know that remediation costs are likely to be $2 to $5 million, a much lesser amount that could be incorporated into redevelopment costs.
The City has developed a strategic plan and design to redevelop this area into a mixed-use development and employment center, with up to 2 million square feet of commercial and high-technology offices and light manufacturing. New, medium-density housing is also planned nearby. The City will seek to promote the location of environmentally-sensitive businesses, the use of green building practices, and development that enhances and protects the beauty of adjacent resources such as San Francisco Bay, wetlands, and open space areas. The Four Corners portion is slated for the establishment of a new town center including government buildings, civic space and commercial establishments. The overall design will enhance the community and its livability. The City expects that redevelopment of the entire Ravenswood Industrial Area will create 4,000 new jobs and generate more than $1 million per year in new tax revenues.
The redevelopment of Ravenswood will also benefit the broader region. Silicon Valley is rapidly running out of office space and developable land. This leaves the Ravenswood Industrial Area poised to take advantage of a tight real estate market and finally enjoy the prosperity of the booming regional economy. Moreover, there is a housing crisis in Silicon Valley that East Palo Alto can help alleviate with the development of new housing in the Ravenswood area.
However, revitalizing this area will not be easy. Our challenge will be to obtain the $2 to $5 million required to clean up the site. Currently, there are few available sources at any level of government to fill this gap. Moreover, the uncertain liability scheme that hovers over brownfields under the current state of the law discourages the private sector from taking on these expensive cleanup challenges. Consequently, East Palo Alto's last remaining developable area remains underutilized.
In addition, we will need to secure funds to upgrade the infrastructure in the area, including expanding and improving the major entrance road to Ravenswood, enhancing flood control and prevention along the San Francisco Bay, and upgrading our utilities. East Palo Alto's challenges clearly demonstrate the need for innovative partnerships and increased federal funding if California is to fully reap the many benefits from redeveloping brownfields like the Ravenswood area.
The federal government, particularly the U.S. EPA, has played an important role in helping East Palo Alto develop and advance our brownfields redevelopment efforts. Specifically it has:
* provided critical funding and a staff person to enable us to institutionalize a local program and to help investigate and clean up specific sites. East Palo Alto stresses the importance of the EPA staffperson working in our City under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act. The challenges in East Palo Alto cannot be solved simply by providing federal money. Success requires the expertise, transfer of success stories from other communities, and the local-federal partnership that a federal on-site manager can provide;
* provided technical assistance and other resources through the Brownfields Showcase Community initiative that have helped us learn from other communities and take on the many challenging obstacles to brownfields revitalization;
* connected us with other federal agencies that have resources and technical expertise;
* helped East Palo Alto create the first brownfields job training program in America, which has now been established as a full pre-apprenticeship and environmental jobs program to train workers in the scientific, technical and cleanup skills needed in our brownfields; and
* most importantly, EPA provided the critical leadership needed to educate the many stakeholders and the general public that redeveloping brownfields can be done and that it can provide significant economic and environmental benefits for communities across the nation.
Other federal agencies are also playing a critical role in revitalizing local brownfields in communities like East Palo Alto. The brownfields challenge cannot be viewed in isolation as merely an environmental cleanup problem. Brownfields revitalization must bring together environmental cleanup with economic and infrastructure development, transportation planning, housing, education and public health, and many other community development components. Brownfields is not an "EPA-only" issue, but must be a partnership among local and state government, the private sector, and an array of federal agencies like the 20-plus agencies leading the Brownfields Showcase Community Initiative. For example, East Palo Alto's revitalization of the Ravenswood brownfield area will not be successful without the help of the Army Corps of Engineers to address flooding and ecosystem issues, without the support of the Department of Transportation to develop workable transportation options, without the resources of the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration, without the help of HUD for affordable housing and economic development, and without the help of other federal and state agencies.
THE PROPOSED LEGISLATION WILL MEET LOCAL GOVERNMENT NEEDS FOR FEDERAL BROWNFIELDS INCENTIVES
Local governments across America need federal incentives and assistance for brownfields revitalization. Localities are a key player in brownfields revitalization: as owners of contaminated municipal properties, localities need resources and regulatory incentives for revitalization; as the lead for local economic development and environmental programs, localities view brownfield redevelopment as a top priority; and as a catalyst for efforts by the private sector to turn brownfields into productive places, localities support liability clarification incentives. As explained below, priority brownfields needs for localities include funding for assessment and cleanup, liability clarification for parties who can foster the cleanup of brownfields, clear authority for state-led brownfields cleanups, and the partnership of other federal agencies to put brownfields on a revitalization track.
I. Ensuring Adequate Resources for Brownfields Revitalization
As East Palo Alto's efforts to revitalize the Ravenswood Industrial Area clearly demonstrate, local governments need additional federal funding for site assessment, remediation and economic redevelopment to ensure long-term success in revitalizing our brownfields. The costs of site assessment and remediation can create a significant barrier to the redevelopment of brownfields sites. In particular, the uncertainty associated with brownfields sites pose an initial obstacle that drives development away from brownfields sites. With this initial obstacle removed, localities eliminate uncertainty, save time, and are much better able to put sites on a redevelopment track. In addition, the allocation of public resources for site assessment can provide a signal to the private sector that the government is serious about resolving liability issues at a site and putting it back into productive reuse. In fact, the resources provided to East Palo Alto through the EPA brownfield assessment pilot program enabled the City to get serious about the redevelopment of our priority brownfield sites. Without this EPA help, many brownfields will continue to blight communities across America and encourage sprawling patterns of development.
Likewise, resources for cleanup are the missing link for many brownfield sites - a link that keeps brownfields from being redeveloped into productive areas in many communities like East Palo Alto. Although the private sector has a key role to play in brownfields cleanup, the catalyst of federal cleanup dollars is needed at many sites to leverage private cleanup funds and to help level the development playing field between brownfields and our precious open spaces. The use of public funds for the assessment and cleanup of brownfields sites is a smart investment. Public funding can be leveraged into substantial private sector resources. Investments in brownfields yield the economic fruit of increased jobs, expanded tax bases for cities, and urban revitalization.
The $150 million in annual federal funding for brownfields revitalization provided in S.350 would go a long way toward helping communities make progress on this daunting brownfields problem. Furthermore, S.350 properly recognizes a wide variety of local entities as eligible entities for federal brownfields funding, including not only local governments, states and tribes, but also local development agencies, regional economic development districts, and other entities that play key roles in local brownfields revitalization. The following types of federal funding will help local communities continue to make progress in revitalizing our brownfields sites:
* Grants for Site Assessments and Investigation: EPA's Brownfields Assessment Pilot grants have been extremely effective in helping localities to establish local brownfields programs, inventory sites in their communities, investigate the potential contamination at specific sites, and educate key stakeholders and the general public about overcoming the obstacles to brownfields redevelopment. Additional funding for site assessments and investigation is needed to help more communities establish local brownfields programs and begin the process of revitalizing these sites in their communities. S.350 recognizes the value of federal funding for brownfields assessments, and appropriately provides money for the development of local assessment programs, as well as for targeted brownfields assessment activities.
* Grants for Cleanup of Brownfields Sites: There is a strong need for federal grants to support the cleanup of brownfields sites across the country. The U.S. Conference of Mayors' recent report on the status of brownfields sites in 223 cities nationwide indicates that the lack of cleanup funds is the major obstacle to reusing these properties. For many brownfields sites, a modest grant targeted for cleanup can make the critical difference in determining whether a site is redeveloped -- creating new jobs, tax revenues and return on investment - or whether the site remains polluted, dangerous and abandoned. The approach in S.350 recognizes this critical funding need, and appropriately provides direct grants for cleanup, based on considerations including the protection of green space and parks, and the re-use of existing infrastructure.
* Grants to Capitalize Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Funds: In addition to grants, federal funding to help localities and states to establish revolving loan funds (RLFs) for brownfields cleanup is another effective mechanism to leverage public and private resources for redevelopment. EPA deserves credit for championing brownfields RLFs as a mechanism for helping communities fill a critical gap in cleanup funding. However, under current law the Brownfields Cleanup RLF program is needlessly burdened by bureaucratic requirements of the Superfund law. These burdens include conformance with the Superfund National Contingency Plan and unworkable requirements for the dedication of personnel to run local RLF programs. East Palo Alto has been stymied by these obstacles, and communities across the nation have been unable to move RLF resources into brownfields projects because of these concerns. NALGEP therefore commends S.350 for providing needed improvements to the RLF program by enabling EPA to separate cleanup grants for loan funds from the burdensome and unnecessary requirements of the Superfund National Contingency Plan that have hindered the effective use of RLF funds.NALGEP also emphasizes the important recognition in S.350 between brownfields revitalization and smart growth. The investment of public resources in brownfields areas will help revitalize established communities with existing infrastructure, and avoid sprawling growth on the fringe of metropolitan areas. Such a smart growth approach can help defer the environmental and economic costs that can result from unwise, sprawling development outside of our urban centers. In NALGEP's report Profiles of Business Leadership in Smart Growth, we highlighted the efforts of businesses who seek to reduce business costs, retain qualified workers, and maintain quality of life by redeveloping brownfields and avoiding sprawl. Likewise, NALGEP's recent report Profiles of Local Clean Air Innovation recognizes the air quality benefits that can come from brownfields redevelopment and smart growth. Now, NALGEP is working with a coalition of partners on a Smart Growth for Clean Water project that will demonstrate how smart growth tools like land conservation and brownfields redevelopment can help protect and improve the nation's surface, ground and drinking water.
II. Liability Clarification at Brownfields Sites
On the issue of federal Superfund liability associated with brownfields sites, NALGEP has found that the Environmental Protection Agency's overall leadership and its package of liability clarification policies have helped establish a climate conducive to brownfields renewal, and have contributed to the cleanup of specific sites throughout the nation. Congress can enhance these liability reforms by further clarifying in legislation that Superfund liability does not apply to certain "non-responsible" parties such as innocent landowners, prospective purchasers and contiguous property owners. S.350 would clearly address these issues, and overcomes a hurdle that has kept innocent parties from voluntarily cleaning brownfields sites.
III. Enhancing the Role of the States in Brownfields Cleanup, Improving State Programs, and Keeping the Safety Net of EPA Protection
Addressing the American brownfields problem will require federal law that provides effective State brownfields cleanup programs with the authority to foster cleanups and clarify liability at these sites. Moreover, resources and support are needed to improve the effectiveness of many state brownfields cleanup programs. At the same time, the law must preserve the ability of U.S. EPA to protect citizens and local governments from the extraordinary situation of bad cleanups and ineffective state programs. The approach proposed by S.350 would put forth a well-crafted, workable approach that can help foster increased brownfields revitalization.
It is clear that effective brownfields revitalization is most likely to take place in states with effective voluntary cleanup programs. NALGEP has also found that states are playing a critical lead role in promoting the revitalization of brownfields. More than forty states have established voluntary or independent cleanup programs that have been a primary factor in successful brownfields cleanup, including my home state of California. The effectiveness of state leadership in brownfields is demonstrated by those 15 states that have taken primary responsibility for brownfields liability clarification pursuant to Superfund "Memoranda of Agreement" ("MOAs") with U.S. EPA. These MOAs defer liability clarification authority to those states, and have resulted in increased brownfields activities in local communities that can make use of these state-EPA agreements.
The federal government should further encourage states to take the lead at brownfields sites. States are more familiar with the circumstances and needs at individual sites. A state lead will increase local flexibility and provide confidence to developers, lenders, prospective purchasers and other parties that brownfields sites can be revitalized without the specter of Superfund liability or the involvement of federal enforcement personnel. Parties developing brownfields want to know that the state can provide the last word on liability, and that there will be only one "policeman," barring exceptional circumstances. Moreover, it is clear that U.S. EPA lacks the resources or ability to provide the assistance necessary to remediate and redevelop the hundreds of thousands of brownfields sites in our communities.
S.350 provides that EPA will not take Superfund enforcement or cost recovery action against a person who is conducting or has completed a response action, with regard to a specific release that is addressed by the response action that is in compliance with a State program. This liability protection applies under any State program which governs response actions for the protection of public health and the environment. The approach taken by S.350 would help effective State brownfields programs to take a lead in brownfields cleanup, and give confidence to brownfields developers that they can get the job done. NALGEP commends the bill's sponsors for an approach that can work well and overcome the long-time stalemate on the issue of "finality."
At the same time, local officials are also concerned that citizens need to be protected from inadequate brownfields cleanups, in which a state program does not effectively protect public health or in other exceptional circumstances. States vary in the technical expertise, resources, staffing, and commitment necessary to ensure that brownfields cleanups are adequately protective of public health and the environment. If brownfields sites are improperly assessed, remediated or put into reuse, it is most likely that the local government will bear the largest impact from any public health emergency or contamination of the environment. Moreover, NALGEP believes that EPA's supportive approach to brownfields over the last six years demonstrates that, under S.350, the Agency can play an appropriate deferential role for local governments and the private sector. Thus, it is important to keep the safety net of U.S. EPA Superfund authority intact for those exceptional circumstances in which a state needs help at a particular brownfields cleanup, the site presents an imminent and substantial threat to health or the environment, or in other limited situations. The approach in S.350 keeps this important safety net for our citizens and the environment in place, and provides a balanced and workable state-federal approach.
The approach provided in S.350 goes even further, by providing resources and assistance to enable States to develop and improve their brownfields cleanup programs, so that brownfield cleanups are effective and circumstances of public health threat remain truly exceptional. By providing $50 million in annual grants to States for the enhancement of cleanup programs, and encouraging states to establish adequate provisions for meaningful public participation, enforcement, and mechanisms for the approval of cleanups, S.350 would help promote state leadership on brownfields cleanup. IV. Addressing the Local Need to Clean Up Brownfields with Lead, Asbestos, and Petroleum Contamination
NALGEP suggests one major improvement for S.350 which is needed to address a priority local problem - the cleanup of brownfields impacted by petroleum, or by lead and asbestos in the structures of buildings.
Under current law and agency programs, these pollutants are excluded from federal brownfields assistance. These environmental contaminants are some of the most difficult problems facing local communities. Abandoned gas stations, housing with severe lead paint hazards, and buildings contaminated with asbestos blight communities across America, and represent a top local priority for cleanup. In fact, EPA reports that there are nearly 200,000 abandoned gas stations in the United States.
One example of the problem associated with the petroleum, lead and asbestos exclusion from CERCLA can be seen in Kansas City, Missouri. A former YMCA building, a historic site where the Negro Baseball League was founded, is the target of a community and City effort to create the Negro Baseball League Archives. The City has sought to obtain funding to deal with suspected contamination from asbestos, lead-based paint, and petroleum leaks from a heating oil tank, but has been barred from using EPA Assessment Pilot funds because of the CERCLA prohibition.
Brownfield sites with these pollutants should be eligible for funding. Local governments should be granted the flexibility to direct their brownfields resources, including federal funds provided by S.350, to their priority brownfields projects, including those that are blighted by petroleum, lead or asbestos. NALGEP urges the Congress to empower localities to make the choice to focus brownfields resources on contaminated properties where they are most needed.
Further, NALGEP urges the Congress to support the cleanup of abandoned gas stations in ways that go beyond the incentives of S.350. EPA's Office of Underground Storage Tanks ("UST") has launched a pilot program to clean up and revitalize abandoned gas stations across America. This "USTFields Redevelopment Initiative" has already picked ten pilot localities, and seeks to choose 40 more partnerships with local governments to clean up and revitalize properties marred by leaking underground storage tanks. Congress should support and fund this initiative to address a top environmental priority for nearly every local community. V. Facilitating the Partnership of Other Federal Agencies in Brownfields Revitalization
The cleanup and redevelopment of a brownfields site is often a challenging task that requires coordinated efforts among different government agencies at the local, state and national levels, public-private partnerships, the leveraging of financial resources from diverse sources, and the participation of many different stakeholders. Many different federal agencies can play a valuable role in providing funding, technical expertise, regulatory flexibility, and incentives to facilitate brownfields revitalization. For example, HUD, the Economic Development Administration, the Department of Transportation, and the Army Corps of Engineers have all contributed important resources to expedite local brownfields projects. The U.S. EPA has provided strong leadership through the Brownfields Showcase Community Initiative that is demonstrating how the federal government can coordinate and leverage resources from many different federal agencies to help localities solve their brownfields problems.
Congress can help strengthen the national brownfields partnership by further clarifying that the various federal partners play a critical role in redeveloping brownfields, increasing funding for agency brownfields programs, and by encouraging the agencies to meet local needs and to create innovative new approaches. For example, Congress should be commended for legislation passed in 1998 to clarify that HUD Community Development Block Grant funds can be used for all aspects of brownfields projects including site assessments, cleanup and redevelopment. This simple step has cleared the way for communities across the country to use these funds in a flexible fashion to meet their specific local needs. In addition, Congress has provided $25 million in each of the past two years for HUD's Brownfields Economic Development Initiative. NALGEP understands that HUD Secretary Mel Martinez has indicated his intention to promote brownfields revitalization and smart growth policies through that Department. These HUD brownfields initiatives should be supported and expanded.
Similarly, Congress should clarify that it is appropriate and desirable for the Army Corps of Engineers to use its resources and substantial technical expertise for local brownfields projects. In East Palo Alto, for instance, we need the Corps of Engineers' help to succeed in our revitalization of the Ravenswood Industrial Area, and are working with the Corps toward this goal. East Palo Alto is severely impacted by flooding, environmental contamination, and the need for restoration of the local aquatic ecosystem. Without the assistance of the Corps of Engineers, we simply do not have the capacity or resources to overcome these challenges. NALGEP is also aware of Corps of Engineers involvement in more than 50 local projects across the nation that involve the challenges of brownfields. In these projects, Corps expertise and resources conducted under continuing authorities or congressional directive are making a critical difference.
However, the role of the Corps of Engineers in brownfields projects that are connected to the nation's waterways should be clarified and enhanced by the Congress. For instance, last year Senator Chafee introduced legislation which would provide the Corps with clear authority and additional resources to conduct brownfields activities along America's waterways. NALGEP believes that these approaches could make a big difference for East Palo Alto and many other communities, and we urge this Committee to support these proposals.
Congress also should work with EPA and the Administration to determine how other agencies can help facilitate more brownfields revitalization. For example, the Department of Transportation, headed by a Secretary who hails from my hometown area in California, Secretary Norman Mineta, should be playing a key role in directing transit and transportation infrastructure into the nation's established communities impacted by brownfields. As this Committee begins to think about the reauthorization of TEA-21, NALGEP urges you to keep the challenge of transportation and brownfields in mind. By taking these steps, Congress can give communities additional tools, resources, and flexibility to overcome the many obstacles to brownfields redevelopment.
NALGEP also emphasizes the importance of the federal government staying involved in the brownfields challenge for the long haul. You can not turn around a brownfield - or a local community - in one quarterly reporting period. Success requires local, federal, state and private partners to work together to achieve a long-term community vision. S. 350 is so important because it provides a long-term commitment to community brownfields revitalization.
Senator Robert Kennedy once declared "give me a place on which to stand, and I shall move the earth." The people of America, the people of our local communities, and people in this Congress are standing up on our brownfields and in our streets and in our neighborhoods and we are saying, let's move the earth! Let us take these places that have been abandoned, and let us turn them back to jobs and business and parks and homes. Let us show that we can bring business people and environmental groups and City Hall and the federal agencies together toward a common, exciting goal. Let us take this notion that jobs and the environment are a tradeoff, and recycle it into a new notion of better communities where these goals are linked and supportive of each other. And let's do it now.
In conclusion, local governments are excited to work with the federal government to promote the revitalization of brownfields, through a combination of increased federal investment in community revitalization, further liability clarification, and other mechanisms to strengthen the federal-local partnership to cleanup and redevelop our communities. On behalf of NALGEP, I thank the Subcommittee for this opportunity to testify, and welcome your requests to provide further input as the process moves forward.