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Volume 25, Issue 7 — July 1995


Stigma Damages in Environmental Cases: Developing Issues and Implications for Industrial and Commercial Real Estate Transactions

by Andrew N. Davis and Santo Longo

Editors' Summary: Environmental litigation is witnessing an increasing number of claims for "stigma" damages, which arise when the value of real property decreases due to a public perception that the property is contaminated or threatened with contamination. In the past, courts generally eschewed awarding such damages in the absence of other actionable harm. Recent decisions, however, reveal that courts have begun to recognize stigma damages in new contexts. After reviewing court decisions forming the basis of modern stigma damage claims, the authors discuss recent cases in which stigma damages were awarded in the absence of other actionable harm. The authors conclude that in light of these decisions, the number of stigma damage claims is likely to rise, but that federal and state environmental initiatives may relieve some of the stigma concerns associated with historically contaminated "brownfields."

The Brownfields Phenomenon: An Analysis of Environmental, Economic, and Community Concerns

by E. Lynn Grayson and Stephen A.K. Palmer

Editors' Summary: Redeveloping abandoned urban hazardous waste sites, or brownfields, can significantly benefit developers, local communities, and the environment. Developers can purchase brownfields inexpensively, and subsequent redevelopment brings jobs to local communities and economic growth to inner cities, while allowing virgin land to remain pristine. Yet, barriers to redevelopment, such as the probability of legal liability, uncertainty regarding cleanup standards, and lenders' unwillingness to finance contaminated property, can make redevelopment extremely risky and difficult. This Article explains the nature of the brownfields problem and provides an overview of the historic, social, economic, and environmental issues that impact brownfield redevelopment. It next addresses current federal, state, and local initiatives to remedy problems associated with brownfields, and presents case studies that illustrate how brownfields may be redeveloped successfully. The Article concludes with recommendations essential to addressing and overcoming barriers to brownfields redevelopment.


The Environment and the Contract

by John Pendergrass, Paul Locke, and James McElfish

The 104th Congress opened with great attention to the Republican "Contract With America" (the Contract), which the House leadership promised would pass the House of Representatives within the first 100 days. The Contract was first fleshed-out on January 4, 1995, when 10 bills were introduced.1 After a flurry of legislative activity, rushed hearings, and abbreviated floor debate, the House fulfilled its promise to act on all 10 bills, finishing more than one week ahead of schedule.2

This Dialogue focuses on four parts of the Contract that are particularly relevant to environmental law and policy. All four were addressed by the Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act, introduced as H.R. 9.3 They are: (1) limitations on congressional imposition of "unfunded mandates" on states and local governments;4 (2) statutory requirements for risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis; (3) "regulatory reform"; and (4) federal payments to property owners affected by regulation. For each of these four parts, the Dialogue describes the bill's original provisions, discusses the legislation's development in the House, and summarizes related developments in the Senate and executive branch.5