The Ford Foundation has made a $300,000 grant to the Environmental Law Institute® to help ELI strengthen its Brownfields Program. The grant is aimed at fostering effective citizen participation in the redevelopment of brownfields — complementing ELI’s existing work on developing the legal infrastructure for brownfields projects that will benefit their communities and the environment.
Brownfields, underused or abandoned land that may be contaminated, can scar inner city neighborhoods and restrict economic opportunity. Redevelopment, properly conceived and implemented, can improve public health and the environment, increase investment, and create long-term improvements in housing, jobs, recreational opportunities, open space, and public facilities. Without community involvement in the cleanup and redevelopment of sites, however, even well-intended brownfield redevelopment projects may not be sustainable.
ELI has been working with multiple stakeholders to overcome the obstacles to brownfield redevelopment since 1989. The Institute’s Brownfields Program focuses on improving legislation, policies, and projects. ELI also provides resources and education to a wide range of stakeholders, including the development of tools specifically designed to meet their needs. For instance, the Co-Directors of the Brownfields Program, ELI Senior Attorneys John Pendergrass and Linda Breggin, have been working with the District of Columbia to develop brownfields legislation. ELI policy studies on brownfields include: A Guidebook for Brownfield Property Owners, Sustainable Redevelopment of Brownfields: Using Institutional Controls to Protect Public Health, Institutional Controls in Use, An Analysis of State Superfund Programs: Fifty State Study and Smart Growth in the Southeast. ELI research reports are available for download at ELI’s Web site http://www.elistore.org/topics_area.asp.
The Ford grant will be used to assist community coalitions, and other citizens, in facing the daunting challenges of obtaining critical information, understanding technical and legal issues, accessing experts, and understanding the maze of procedures used by governmental agencies involved in brownfield projects. ELI will work to ensure that information and resources related to cleanup and redevelopment are accessible and useful to those who need them. ELI will harness existing information and resources, develop new ones if necessary, and disseminate them broadly. ELI is also working to build interactive brownfield websites and a virtual library with links to valuable information so that all those seeking support will be able to find it.