Statement of Senator Barbara Boxer
Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Control and Risk Assessment
Tuesday March 4, 1997

Mr. Chairman, Resolving the issue of how to encourage the cleanup of abandoned and underutilized industrial sites around the country is of critical importance as we strive to revitalize our inner cities.

The City of San Francisco alone has an estimated 5,051 brownfields sites. If we take into account the fact that many of these sites contain multiple properties, San Francisco may have as many as 15,000 or more individual brownfields properties. Each one of these abandoned, vacant industrial and commercial sites means fewer inner-city job opportunities, neighborhood blight, and the increased pressure of urban sprawl and loss of local tax revenue.

As reported in the 39-City Survey on the impact of Brownfields on US Cities, local tax revenue losses to the City of San Francisco are estimated to be between $16 million and $100 million.

The current Superfund law impedes Brownfields development. Many new businesses prefer to locate in uncontaminated areas outside cities rather than face the costs of assessing and cleaning up Brownfields, and face the possibility of becoming involved in cleanup liability issues for contamination caused by former users of the site.

In order to bring businesses back to intercity commercial sites, and help revitalize our communities, we must provide liability relief for prospective purchasers and innocent landowners while ensuring that we in no way erode protection of human health and the environment. The Lautenberg/Baucus bill of which I am a cosponsor would provide this relief.

The Lautenberg/Baucus bill also authorize grants to state and local governments to characterize Brownfield sites and capitalize revolving loan funds for Brownfields cleanup. Providing these funds is critically important as demonstrated by the success of EPA's grants for Brownfields pilot cleanup projects in the last two years.

California has four EPA Brownfields National Pilot Projects: in Sacramento, Stockton, Emeryville, and Richmond. We also have two Regional EPA Pilot Projects -- one in San Francisco and one in Oakland, and EPA provides regional assistance to Los Angeles and East Palo Alto.

EPA Brownfield grants are playing an important role in, for example, the City of Stockton's plans to redevelop its abandoned shipyard and industrial sites along the waterfront. EPA is helping the City fund a master plan for brownfields site assessment and remediation, and incentives for redevelopment.

San Francisco has received a $100,000 grant to help revitalize the South Bayshore neighborhood adjacent to the Hunters Point Naval shipyard.

In Sacramento, EPA grants are helping to redevelop the old Southern Pacific and Union pacific railyard sites situated in the heart of the city.

While there are many similarities between the Brownfields provisions in your Superfund reauthorization bill and the Lautenberg/Baucus Brownfields bill, I am particularly concerned about provisions in your bill which allow Superfund cleanups to occur under state voluntary cleanup laws and policies. State programs are designed to cleanup low risk sites and may not prove adequate not appropriate for high risk Superfund site cleanup.

Mr. Chairman, acting quickly to resolve critically important liability and cleanup issues in Brownfield sites all over the country is of utmost importance for our Nation.

I look forward to working with you to get Brownfields reform provisions approved as quickly as possible.