Brownfields, defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as “abandoned, idled or under-used real property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by the presence or potential presence of environmental contamination,” are a nationwide problem; the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) estimates that there are as many as 425,000 brownfields across the United States. To combat this problem, many state, federal, local, and nonprofit entities provide funding and technical assistance for brownfields redevelopment projects.

Brownfields remediation work is often complicated, slow and expensive, but frequently results in enormous returns. Although many cities and states have their own brownfields programs, regional councils can play an important role by coordinating regional partnerships, providing technical and financial assistance, and integrating the brownfields projects into their larger regional vision.

Brownfields Issue Brief

Regional councils have participated in brownfields rehabilitation projects by facilitating partnerships and providing technical and financial assistance for brownfields projects. Brownfields projects can advance a regional council’s land use, transportation, environmental sustainability, and economic and community development goals. In 2002, President Bush signed the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act. The Brownfields Law amended the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act by providing funds to assess and clean up brownfields; clarified CERCLA liability protections; and provided funds to enhance state and tribal response programs. In March of 2013, Senators Lautenberg (D-NJ), Inhofe (R-OK), Crapo (R-ID) and Udall (D-NM) introduced the biparisan Brownfields Utilization, Investment, and Local Development (BUILD) Act of 2013 to help towns and cities clean up brownfield sites and put them back into productive use. This bill expands grant eligibility and increases local flexibility to prioritize projects in the wake of recent disasters and rebuilding efforts. Most recently, in August of 2013, the BUILD act was referred to the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. Other related laws and regulations impact brownfields cleanup and reuse through financial incentives and regulatory requirements.

NARC Member Case Studies

Brownfields Resources

NARC Resources

Federal Resources

U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Non-Profit Resources

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