by Steve Dwyer
“Do no harm” transcends the oath of responsibility physicians vow to uphold. In the environmental realm, this oath is equally applicable, serving as the responsibility of all brownfield stakeholders. No project is a one-size-fits-all, and each comes with its own set of circumstances. Knowledge is power among environmental practitioners.
Protecting, even expanding, federal funding for brownfields is the X factor, and this critical funding is currently in a tenuous state of flux.
In the industrial belt states that represent BCONE’s footprint, marshaling support for funding has an imminent call to arms. Reading the tea leaves took an ominous turn when President Trump this July urged Ohioans during a trip to the state to tear down aging factories—rationalizing that it serve as the first step to bring new jobs to the state.
Not so fast. Tearing down old factories does not subscribe to the rubric of “do no harm.” A host of these legacy properties are riddled with hidden toxins requiring a prudent environmental game plan—a plan that can only proceed with appropriate funding. Unless some new development enters the picture, Trump’s 2018 budget will call for slashing USEPA’s Superfund and brownfields program funding streams.
Moreover, funding cuts would result in key U.S. EPA staff reduction and a significant amount of decades-long agency intelligence and experience along with it. These are professionals who fully grasp how to fluently navigate and proceed with industrial cleanups—all with the endgame of returning dilapidated industrial sites to productive use—from mixed use to light industrial. And, while also protecting the health of workers and nearby residents.
In the name of economic, social and environmental results that smart-growth redevelopment advocates assure, contact your federal representatives to ensure that your voice is heard and that they are working diligently to protect and enhance the federal brownfield budget.