The need for comprehensive federal Brownfields legislation that complements current and future state legislation has grown enormously. Over the past two decades many large corporations, like Bethlehem Steel, have significantly downsized to respond to a rapidly changing global marketplace. Thousands of Brownfield sites exist throughout the country, some of which continue to deteriorate in our urban centers. These wasted assets, and the unnecessary despoiling of farmland and other "Greenfield" sites, have spawned numerous state Brownfield laws just within the last several years. Indeed, the states have taken the lead on this issue through voluntary cleanup legislation and have collectively developed a model framework that has achieved widespread support. In particular, I would like to commend Governor Ridge of Pennsylvania, who has been a strong advocate in the Great Lakes region for Brownfields legislation. A wide variety of Brownfield sites can be cleaned-up and redeveloped effectively and efficiently under existing state programs if federal legislation is enacted that promotes the "one master" concept: namely, that remediation under a state program will satisfy federal requirements.
There are basically two categories of Brownfield sites: abandoned sites and underutilized sites. Usually abandoned sites are relatively small in size and have been left deteriorating for a number of years. As a result, the infrastructure associated with these sites has also been deteriorating. Such abandoned sites are often municipally-owned and usually will require financial assistance for redevelopment. Brownfield sites with a viable owner are far larger in size and, with effective legislation, can undergo cleanup without the need for public funds. Often these sites are underutilized or surplus portions of large manufacturing sites which have ongoing adjacent operations. As a result, the infrastructure associated with these sites is usually in much better condition than that for abandoned sites, making them more attractive to potential buyers. There are a growing number of these sites in the United States, especially as a result of the restructuring activities in industries such as steel that have been made and continue to be made in response to intense competitive environments.
Federal legislation must address these properties directly. In order to do so, there are three primary objectives that must be addressed in comprehensive Brownfields legislation. They are: Federal Finality, Certification of State Voluntary Programs, and Eligibility of Sites. Each of these issues are summarized as follows:
We would like to have the ability to cleanup "portions" of a facility under a state voluntary cleanup program and sell them to potential buyers for economic redevelopment purposes. RCRA, which triggers corrective action facility-wide, often precludes our ability to redevelop these properties in a timely manner. Again, we are not proposing to skirt our corrective action obligations, but merely striving to accelerate cleanup for economic redevelopment purposes. In addition, we are not seeking financial assistance or grant money to cleanup our facilities.
We applaud the Committee for addressing the problem of Brownfields. Remediating Brownfields is a win/win for all stakeholders because:
The "one master" concept, whereby the state program satisfies all cleanup requirements and results in comprehensive liability relief, is the way to proceed.