Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Bush's Brownfields Plan Gets Mixed Reaction

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Bush's Brownfields Plan Gets Mixed Reaction

Article excerpt

Vice President Al Gore is known as an environmentalist, and his bid to become president has won endorsements from all major environmental groups.

Opponents of the Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, point to Texas as one of the most polluted states in the nation. Still, Bush has refused to give ground on the issue and has come out with some detailed plans he hopes will hasten the cleanup of abandoned industrial sites, known as brownfields.

"This is a very big deal," said Bill Kovacs, vice president of the environmental and regulatory affairs division of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "There are 600,000 potential brownfields sites, according to the [Government Accounting Office] that are not being developed because of fears of legal liability should any contamination be found on them."

To deal with this problem, Bush has proposed federal legislation to grant developers who meet national standards protection from liability if they reclaim the land. The governor said his approach at the state level in Texas has led to the rehabilitation of 451 properties.

Redeveloping brownfields is not only appealing to business interests, Opponents of urban sprawl argue that fears of litigation and regulation often make it easier to pave 'greenfields' instead of redeveloping brownfields.

That's not how the Sierra Club sees things. "Our concern with the governor's proposal for brownfields is that it doesn't provide adequate cleanup for the future use of that site," spokesperson Allen Mattison said. …

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