States Make Significant Progress in Brownfield Remediation and Redevelopment

August 2013

(Washington, DC) — States across the country are reaping the benefits of years of experimentation with innovative new approaches to brownfields and petroleum brownfields remediation and redevelopment, according to a report released by the Environmental Law Institute. The study provides concrete examples of applied practices and programs currently in use throughout the nation, along with information about regulatory and procedural changes that states have successfully deployed.

The report, Catalyzing Redevelopment: Innovative Approaches and Emerging Best Practices in State Petroleum Brownfield Initiatives, is designed to serve as a resource for state policymakers and practitioners as well as academics and developers interested in learning about current brownfields trends and best practices. It shows how to 1) simplify redevelopment processes; 2) provide critical redevelopment support; and 3) make useful information more accessible to the public. Each chapter in the report closes with a set of legal, regulatory, and policy recommendations, grouped under these themes, that states and other parties can use to improve the remediation process.


The report also highlights a number of case studies illustrating successful state approaches to brownfields redevelopment. Key trends include facilitating multi-site redevelopment, promoting public-private partnerships, and using risk-based corrective action to efficiently and effectively cleanup sites. The report also demonstrates how states are overcoming obstacles to brownfields redevelopment through steps taken to:

  • Strengthen legal provisions to expand foreclosure authority;
  • hold properties until market readiness;
  • establish liability protection;
  • promote environmental insurance;
  • develop institutional controls; and
  • strengthen cost-recovery mechanisms.

Other state strategies include harmonizing and coordinating institutions and redevelopment processes, gathering and sharing information about potential redevelopment sites and redevelopment successes, and making funding sources available to support developers, local governments, and community groups engaged in brownfields redevelopment.

“There exist a wealth of cutting-edge state practices that can be used to remediate and redevelop blighted landscapes — practices that can be shared and replicated across the country,” notes ELI Senior Attorney Lisa Goldman, a co-author of the report. “These innovative practices hold the key to successful redevelopment of brownfield and petroleum brownfield sites.”

Catalyzing Redevelopment was produced with contributions from the U.S. EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities and Office of Underground Storage Tanks as part of Overcoming Obstacles to Redevelopment of Petroleum Brownfields and Other Vacant Properties, a multi-year cooperative agreement that seeks to educate policymakers on practices and approaches for promoting the cleanup and sustainable redevelopment of petroleum brownfields.

The report is available as a free download at

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