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Sustainable Redevelopment of Brownfields: Using Institutional Controls to Protect Public Health

May 1999

Citation: ELR 10243

Author: John A. Pendergrass

Editors' Summary: In this Article, a Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law Institute discusses ways to redevelop brownfields while protecting public health and the environment. His Article explores the various mechanisms for controlling land use to allow for the sustainable development of these contaminated properties. The author begins by examining both government-imposed controls, such as land use planning and zoning, and property law-based controls, such as covenants and easements. Using examples from past experiences with contaminated sites, the author then explores the use and effectiveness of institutional controls to inform the public of health risks, and reviews the use of administrative systems and regulatory systems in maintaining the effectiveness of various institutional controls. He also examines the financing of these systems. The author concludes the Article by offering ideas for new forms of institutional controls.

John Pendergrass is a Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law Institute, where he also is the Director of the Center for State, Local and Regional Environmental Programs. At ELI Mr. Pendergrass has conducted research on a variety of topics including: institutional controls at Department of Engergy, Department of Defense and Superfund sites; state cleanup programs, federal Superfund, the public trust doctrine, the National Environmental Performance Partnership System, the extractive reserve land conservation system in Brazil and enforcement of environmental laws. Mr. Pendergrass has also been a Visiting Associate Professor at Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law, in private practice and an attorney in the Solicitor's Office of the Department of the Interior. The author wishes to thank James M. McElfish and Linda Breggin for their extensive and insightful comments on earlier drafts of this Article, and to also thank Elissa Parker, Jael Polnac, and Joel Mangel for their comments, all of which improved the Article. In addition, the author wishes to thank Maura Carney, Larry Ross, Jill Van Berg, Carolyn Fischer, and Jael Polnac for their assistance in the research for the Article. This Article is based in part upon research that was supported by cooperative agreements between the Environmental Law Institute and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. Views expressed are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of either agency.