EPA’s Brownfield Program Scrutinized

News and analysis by Dan Telvock, Investigative Post's environmental reporter

The Investigative News Network coordinated an investigation of the EPA’s brownfield program and uncovered numerous problems, including richer communities getting more cleanup funding and that there aren’t enough federal dollars to get rid of the contamination at these sites across the country.

The investigation also uncovered how there is a lack of monitoring and the EPA doesn’t even know how well its program is working in terms of remediating contaminated brownfields because it doesn’t have any standards for the clean-up efforts.

All in all, it’s a great read and very informative.

Western New York has 98 Brownfield programs. Of those 98 programs, 31 are in Erie County, which has the most of any other county in the state, according to a University at Buffalo Urban Design study for the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo and the Western New York Environmental Alliance  called Mapping Waste: Setthe the State to Clean up Niagara.

Here’s a section of the investigative series:

Justin Hollander, an associate professor in urban planning and environmental policy and planning at Tufts University and author of several books on brownfields, said the investigation’s findings support what he’s long thought: that the program’s emphasis on developer-blessed projects is misguided.

“What we need is a new model,” he said. “In cases where the money is spent and the site is remediated and rebuilt, that’s a good thing, but it happens to so few sites that most people who live near brownfields have not seen the benefits.”