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Three Generations of the Brownfield Renaissance in PA

15 Jun 2018 2:46 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Natural gas is providing the baseline energy production to fuel the Brownfield redevelopment renaissance in Pennsylvania. This renaissance as occurring in three generations, according to Brian Clark, Esq. of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney who moderated the session Revitalization of Old Industrial Sites for Multiple Reuse.  PA is now in the third generation of brownfield redevelopment. 

The first generation was removing the stigma of contaminated sites. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the first generation began roughly in 1995 with Pennsylvania’s passage of the Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act of 1995 (Act 2). So the first generation may be thought of as one that lifted the stigma from formerly used and potentially contaminated properties. This enabled action to be taken on huge properties that had been mothballed by large industries; the sites were shuttered to avoid the stigma of Superfund liability. 

The second generation came when the Federal Government codified EPA’s Brownfield Environmental and Economic Revitalization Initiative into the 2002 Brownfield Law. Thus, the second generation involved the federal government entering into cooperative agreements with the states and providing financial incentives and a lifting of retroactive liability to allow mothballed sites to be cleaned up voluntarily. 

The third generation is settling the issue of co-existing remediated properties with a mixture of commercial and high-tech, light-industrial uses. With the right institutional controls, community outreach, and education, these light industrial reuses may be safely located close to residential redevelopment. The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development strategy for repurposing the 11 shuttered coal-fired power plants in the state includes “playbooks,” which are detailed marketing materials for each former plant that help bring together the energy companies that still own the sites and developers potentially interested in giving the properties new life. There are 14 power plants to be repurposed.

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