Last Thursday I hosted a webinar, titled “Site Assessment and Redevelopment Opportunities in the New Political Climate.” I was very fortunate to be joined by three leading experts in the brownfields space who cut through the uncertainty and painted a picture of how the changes in Washington are reshaping the important work that consultants perform in the field to bring contaminated sites back into reuse. A few highlights from our live event:
Our trusty voice of the media, Mary Ann Grena Manley, the Deputy Editorial Director of the EHS Division at Bloomberg BNA, shared her view from inside the Beltway:
“It appears we have a friend in EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt whose July Superfund Task Force report highlights 42 specific recommendations with a major focus on streamlining and expediting cleanup and site reuse with an emphasis on private sector involvement. The significance of these suggested reforms is that they can be initiated without legislative changes, are implementable within one year and can have a positive impact on the Superfund program.”
“There is bipartisan support on Capitol Hill for legislation that would reauthorize the brownfields program, increase grant amounts and afford liability protections.”
“The latest extreme weather events have brought more attention to contaminated sites with huge questions on the table related to new releases, contaminated flood waters and whether Superfund sites are secure.”
Second, Patricia Overmeyer, from the federal EPA’s Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization , shared the latest U.S. EPA budget numbers, reminding us to look past the headlines and keep the latest data in historical perspective:
- A look back at the brownfields budget reflects only minimal year-to-year changes (see table).
- On the EPA database front, the agency is replacing CERCLIS with SEMS (Superfund Enterprise Management System), but SEMS is not yet fully publicly accessible.
A late-breaking regulatory development: EPA published a final rule on September 15, 2017 amending the federal AAI rule to recognize the updated forestland/rural property standard as another acceptable avenue (in addition to the ASTM E 1527 standard and the AAI rule) for qualifying for the three CERCLA liability protections, effective March 14, 2018.Rounding out our trio was the inspiring Dan French, Founder and CEO of Brownfield Listings in Chicago, and a passionate advocate for what he calls “The Redevelopment Renaissance.” Here’s why Dan is so optimistic about site redevelopment opportunities at this stage of the market’s evolution:
“North America has the best of everything you’d want to compete in the 21st century global economy: it’s outperforming the rest of the world, post-2008 pivot.”
Among the most promising barometers are: record-high retail sales, a 50-year low in initial jobless claims and an all-time high in U.S. job openings.“Driving urban development is not just millennials cramming into lofts downtown. Pedestrian-oriented development and quality of place is attracting boomers in their retirement, too. Neither wants to be stuck in traffic…when they could be staring at their smartphones.”
“Boom on!” That’s Dan’s rally cry to all the consultants—and other professionals—who are devoted to driving forward the redevelopment of contaminated sites in our urban areas nationwide.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
- For more, a replay of last week’s live event is available here.
- All three speakers will be at this December’s brownfields conference in Pittsburgh.
- Dan French is a prolific blogger, offering commentary on changes re: EPA’s brownfields program, the energy fueling the redevelopment rennaissance and current events. Read his latest here.Next up on our fall webinars is an Oct. 12th event, Measure Twice-Cut Once: Legal Advice on Underwriting in Today’s Market Climate with the legal perspective on environmental risks that are tripping up today’s property transactions—and how you can avoid them. Hope to have you join us!Our gratitude to Mary Ann Grena Manley, Patricia Overmeyer and Dan French for an informative discussion on site redevelopment froma public and private sector perspective.