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Life After RCRA--It's More than a Brownfields Dream

January 1998

Citation: ELR 10031

Author: Susan E. Bromm

Conventional wisdom says that the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)1 is an impediment to the reuse of brownfields.2 Examination of a decade of experience, however, reveals that properties "captured by the net" of RCRA jurisdiction have gone on to new, productive, and economically viable reuse. Contrary to conventional wisdom, there is also a great potential for many more RCRA properties to do so.

Through the use of many examples, this Dialogue demonstrates that state and federal governments are willing to work with the owners of RCRA facilities to convert these sites into beneficially reused properties. Specifically, this Dialogue examines the perceived obstacles that RCRA poses to brownfields redevelopment, and explores the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) efforts at addressing these obstacles. Redevelopment opportunities for RCRA-permitted facilities and for sites under RCRA corrective action orders, as well as opportunities for accelerating site cleanup through voluntary programs, are discussed. Although substantive opportunities to redevelop brownfields are available through state and federal programs, this Dialogue concludes that federal guidance outlining the procedural steps of converting brownfields to beneficially reused property would be useful.

Susan E. Bromm, an attorney, is the Deputy Director of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Office of Site Remediation Enforcement. She has held various positions within EPA involving Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) responsibilities since 1980. The views expressed in this Dialogue are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position of EPA. The author wishes to thank her many colleagues at EPA who reviewed and provided expert advice on the content of this Dialogue.