About EPA's Land Revitalization Action Agenda
Revitalizing America's Communities
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in partnership with the States and a broad range of stakeholders, is undertaking an important initiative (announced by Administrator Whitman on April 10, 2003) both to protect human health and the environment by cleaning up waste sites and restore land to productive commercial, residential, industrial, and green space end uses.
A clean up that is protective of human health, but leaves a property unused because it is surrounded by a chain link fence and "do not enter" signs, may not fully benefit the people who live around it. Community members care both about cleaning up past contamination and about the future opportunities that a property offers to improve their quality of life in sustainable ways that break the cycle of environmental contamination and blight and reduce sprawl. Cleanup and reuse are mutually supportive common sense goals that reinforce each other to serve the common good.
Land reuse decisions are local, but EPA can take concrete actions to help local decision makers achieve land reuse as part of clean up. Although a number of steps already have been taken in EPA's cleanup programs to further reuse, much more can be done to expand on the successes that have been achieved.
EPA has developed a Land Revitalization Agenda to further land reuse by: ensuring that cleanup program policies and guidance encourage reuse; creating public-private and cross-governmental partnerships to foster reuse; instilling a culture of reuse in our government workforce; and providing incentives for reuse through streamlined implementation of the new federal brownfields legislation to provide brownfields grants and limit liability for prospective purchasers of property.
Key actions identified by EPA as part of its Land Revitalization Agenda include:
- Undertake Urban River Restoration Pilots - EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers partnership will name eight urban rivers on which to focus governmental expertise in working with all stakeholders to achieve early and meaningful cleanup and restoration goals.
- Pilot Ready for Reuse Technical Determinations - In order to provide clear information to the public and foster confidence in the marketplace, EPA is piloting the use of written determinations stating that once-contaminated properties are ready for appropriate reuses.
- Explore policies to clarify questions about liability that may hinder reuse - EPA is reviewing policies and practices concerning certain liability issues to promote, where appropriate, revitalization of properties.
- Coordinate assistance to target geographic site clusters - EPA will leverage grant resources across multiple federal cleanup programs to facilitate area-wide cleanup and reuse of multiple contaminated properties.
- Promote innovative technical solutions - EPA is developing an information system for innovative technologies that will be available to the public, along with expert technical teams that provide project managers with site-specific assistance to reduce cleanup costs and facilitate reuse.
- Strengthen EPA's workforce to make reuse an integral part of the job - EPA is training staff and managers to understand private sector needs in conducting real estate transactions and is forming Regional Land Revitalization Teams.
The Land Revitalization Agenda provides a menu of over 60 good ideas that the Agency may take to ensure that land revitalization is an integral part of all EPA cleanup programs and that reuse is considered early in the cleanup process. The Agenda takes important steps to assist both buyers and sellers in transforming once environmentally-impaired properties into community assets. It does not require that all previously contaminated property be reused and EPA is not seeking new legislation to implement it.
The Agenda is the product of extensive discussions with, and comments from, Federal Agencies, States, Tribes, local government, environmental and land use organizations, the Environmental Justice community, the regulated community and land development interests. The Agency welcomes additional suggestions that will encourage sustainable land revitalization as part of its cleanup mission.