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Council on Environmental Quality
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Cleaner Lands

Through public-private partnerships, Federal grants and incentives, the Bush Administration has made much progress in cleaning and restoring polluted lands. The President worked with Congress to enact historic, bipartisan brownfields reform legislation that provides State and local governments greater abilities and resources to turn environmental eyesores into productive community assets, creating jobs and billions of dollars in economic revitalization in urban areas.

Reclaiming America's Brownfields

"All of us have a responsibility to be the stewards of our land. When we use the land, we must do so wisely and responsibly, balancing the needs of the environment with the best interests of those who live and work on the land. The law I sign today addresses the problem of land which has already been developed, and then abandoned. American cities have many such eyesores-anywhere from 500,000 to a million brownfields are across our nation. These areas once supported manufacturing and commerce, and now lie empty-adding nothing of value to the community, and sometimes only causing problems. ... Environmental protection and economic growth can go on together. It is possible for the two to exist, if we're wise about public policy. And the law that I'm about to sign is good public policy. It's got a lot of common sense in it. It's wise. It encourages growth. It fosters the environment. It is the best-it shows what can-it is the best of Washington, when people decide to cooperate, not bicker, when people put the national interests ahead of political interests."

President George W. Bush
Remarks During the Signing of The Small Business Liability Relief And Brownfields Revitalization Act
Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, January 11, 2002

PhotoFulfilling a campaign pledge, President Bush worked with Congress to enact historic, bipartisan brownfields reform legislation that he signed on January 11, 2002. The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act gives State and local governments greater flexibility and resources to turn environmental eyesores into productive community assets, significantly increasing the pace of brownfields cleanups. President Bush's FY 2005 budget proposal includes $210 million for brownfields cleanup, a $40 million (24 percent) increase over the 2004 Consolidated Appropriations legislation level. The funding includes an increase for grants and loans to fund cleanup of lightly contaminated sites. The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Trust for Public Land, and others have endorsed the Administration's brownfields proposal.


  • Between 2001 and 2003, 1,176 brownfields properties were made ready for reuse, more than during the previous seven years combined.
  • Under the Bush Administration, the pace of jobs leveraged by brownfields redevelopment has increased from about 1,400 jobs a year to almost 5,000 jobs a year. Using enhanced authority from the Brownfields Revitalization Act of 2002, this pace of progress will increase substantially.
  • In 2003, EPA provided $73.1 million for 211 competitive grants for assessment, revolving loan funds, and cleanup in 176 localities located within 37 states and 7 tribes. In addition, EPA provided $49.7 million in brownfields response program grants to 50 states and 30 tribes. Congress appropriated $170 million for this work in 2004, and the 2005 budget requests $210 million.


Redeveloping Coalfields

The Office of Surface Mining (OSM) led the first successful coal fields EPA Brownfields Pilot Demonstration grant, bringing $200,000 to a rural, coal-impacted watershed in Pennsylvania for inventory, assessment, and planning. The goal is to spur economic growth and create suitable land for commercial business, recreational trails, and community parks. OSM also signed a Memorandum of Agreement with EPA's Brownfields Program to extend this program to other locations.



President Bush is committed to the "polluter pays" principle, which requires the parties responsible for a Superfund site to pay for the full cost of cleanup. Approximately 70 percent of Superfund sites are paid for by responsible parties. In cases where the responsible party either cannot be found or is no longer in business, the Superfund pays for cleanup; currently, about 30 percent of Superfund sites are such "orphan" sites. EPA is conducting a management review and has asked the National Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technology to identify ways to improve Superfund, maximize resources available for cleanups, and effectively address the largest, more complex sites.


  • From FY 2001 through FY 2003, 129 Superfund sites completed cleanup (47 in FY 2001; 42 in FY 2002; 40 in FY 2003).
  • The Administration is now addressing the largest, most complex sites that remain on the National Priorities List.
  • Of the $203 million in civil penalties recovered by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2003, $4.3 million was assessed for violations of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), the law that governs Superfund.
  • The President's FY 2005 budget provides $1.4 billion for the Superfund, a $124 million (10 percent) increase over the 2004 appropriations. This increase includes a nearly 50 percent boost targeted for the Superfund's remedial program construction budget, which will allow 8-12 additional clean-up starts in 2005 and a similar number of additional completions by 2006.


Nuclear Waste Site Cleanup

The Department of Energy (DOE) is significantly reducing the amount of time needed to clean up waste sites from our Cold War legacy. When the Bush Administration assumed office in 2001, DOE was working with a timetable of 70 years to complete cleanup at a cost of $192 billion. DOE states its reforms will accelerate completion by 35 years, reducing the estimated cost by about $50 billion. For example, the Hanford site in Washington is planned to be cleaned up to the same standards 35 years ahead of schedule in 2035 for roughly $45 billion - saving taxpayers nearly $23 billion.


Cleaning Up Dangerous Abandoned Coal Mines

Since it was created by Congress in 1977, the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) program has reclaimed thousands of abandoned coal mine sites and made the lives of millions of Americans living in the coalfields safer. But the job is not finished. There are an estimated 3.5 million Americans who live less than a mile from a dangerous, high-priority abandoned mine site. This year, as the fee collected from coal companies to pay for the nationwide cleanup expires, the Administration has proposed legislation that would reauthorize the fee in a way that balances the interests of all coal states, but focuses more funding on accelerating the cleanup of dangerous abandoned coal mines. This would make it possible to finish this clean up in 25 years instead of the 60 to 100 years it would take under the current system in states like West Virginia and Pennsylvania. It would also make it possible to remove an average of 142,000 Americans from risk every year. To support this legislation, the President requested a record increase of $53 million for the AML program in his FY 2005 budget proposal-the largest funding increase since states established their AML programs almost 20 years ago.

The Administration's proposed legislation will finish the job sooner, and because it directs more money to where the problems are, it will save $3.2 billion more than if the current system were continued.


Cleaning Up Leaking Underground Storage Tanks

In FY 2002, EPA awarded $58 million in grants to States for the cleanup of leaking underground storage tanks. These grants assist States and private entities in the program's effort to clean up approximately 21,000 leaking underground storage tanks each year.

President Bush's FY 2005 budget provides an increase of $26 million (217 percent) over the FY 2004 enacted level to strengthen EPA's partnership with the states to monitor underground storage tanks. Recognizing that states have primary responsibility for monitoring tanks, issuing permits and enforcing regulations, the additional grant money will provide funds for States to inspect a larger universe of federally regulated underground storage tanks on a more frequent basis as they continue to administer the Underground Storage Tank Program under delegated authority from EPA.

With the President's signing of the brownfields law, additional funds can now be used to assess and clean-up brownfield sites with petroleum contamination from underground storage tanks.


Hardrock Mining Rule

In response to concerns that the hardrock mining rule implemented by the previous Administration may have exceeded statutory authorities and/or Congressional intent, the Bush Administration reviewed the rule and issued a proposed rule to meet those concerns, and to reflect the findings of a National Academy of Sciences report. The Administration determined there were significant improvements in mining administration that could benefit the public and the environment, and ensure that taxpayers are never forced to absorb the cost of mining operation cleanups. Key provisions of the rule were finalized in December 2001, including bonding provisions and performance standards for the use of cyanide and acid mine drainage protections.


Ensuring Pipeline Safety

RSPATo protect environmentally sensitive areas, densely populated areas and areas of special concern, the Department of Transportation's Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA) issued four rules in 2001 and 2002 to implement pipeline safety mandates. These address pipeline integrity management for high consequence areas for operators of large hazardous liquid pipelines and define areas unusually sensitive to environmental damage from pipeline releases. The new rules improve control of pipeline corrosion, reduce the potential for pipeline accidents due to corrosion, improve the reporting of accidents involving hazardous liquid pipelines, provide guidance on repair of hazardous liquid pipelines as part of the integrity management program, and extend pipeline integrity management requirements to operators with less than 500 miles of hazardous liquid pipeline. RSPA also completed the identification and mapping of the unusually sensitive areas in 2001.


Promoting Recycling and Reducing Hazardous Wastes

What Can You Save Today? Resource Conservation ChallengeEPA launched the Resource Conservation Challenge (RCC), a national effort to encourage manufacturers, businesses, and consumers to raise the national recycling rate to 35 percent. EPA also launched the voluntary "Waste Minimization Partnership Program" to help achieve the 50 percent reduction national goal for 30 harmful chemicals. As part of the RCC, EPA launched a new campaign: "Plug-In To Recycling Campaign," a partnership among Best Buy, AT&T Wireless, Sony, Panasonic, Dell, Sharp, and others. The partnership will work to raise Americans' awareness of the value of reusing and recycling electronics and to provide the public with more opportunities to do so across the country. This campaign is one of several new EPA efforts under the Agency's Resource Conservation Challenge.