US EPA’s petroleum brownfields action plan: promoting revitalization and sustainability


Courtesy of US EPA - Environmental Protection Agency

The nation’s approach to assessing, cleaning up, and reusing brownfields has evolved dramatically since the emergence of EPA and state brownfields programs. The cleanup and subsequent redevelopment of brownfields have had significant positive impacts on their surrounding communities, including enhancing local economies, increasing property values, generating new jobs, and creating new commercial, residential, and recreational space on sites once viewed as liabilities.

While there are countless success stories of brownfields that were transformed into new assets, brownfields with petroleum contamination present unique challenges. Typically small and widely dispersed throughout communities, abandoned gas stations and other petroleum-impacted properties often require tailored approaches to overcome the economic and environmental conditions that limit their cleanup and subsequent revitalization. (Note that where this document uses the term “redevelopment” or “revitalization,” it is referring to the ensuing redevelopment and revitalization of brownfields sites that EPA hopes will result from their assessment and cleanup.)

Although there are an estimated 200,000 brownfields across the U.S. with petroleum contamination issues, it has only been within the last six years that these properties were considered eligible to address under EPA’s Brownfields program. Since that time, the program has provided a number of resources that specifically target petroleum-contaminated brownfields. However, EPA and its stakeholders recognize that the program’s approach to petroleum brownfields can be further honed and enhanced to provide even greater assistance in reclaiming these sites.

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