Renewing, Reusing, Redeveloping Brownfields

Last week, the EPA announced the release of their freshly drafted Management Plan for the RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative. The Initiative was launched more than two years ago in an effort to promote brownfields (contaminated lands) as candidates for renewable energy facility sites, and the management plan lays out Initiative goals for the next two years.

The EPA currently tracks approximately 15 million acres of potentially contaminated land across the US. The primary goal of the Initiative is to turn this wasted and potentially dangerous space into viable renewable energy facilities, thereby diverting development of “greenfields” (undeveloped areas such as wetlands) for the same purpose.

Photo by Massachusetts Dept. of Environmental Protection. Some rights reserved.

The Initiative has clear developer appeal. One of the most compelling arguments for re-purposing brownfields is existing infrastructure – many locations already have electric transmission lines, roads and water on site, and are zoned for development of this sort. Given that these sites are usually tucked away from the public eye, developers are also much less likely to face opposition to some of renewable energy’s larger and more objectionable structures such as wind turbines or solar farms.

Pepper Hamilton published a great memo touting the Initiative earlier this year. The author points out that if Senate bill S.1642 passes, then developers building renewable energy projects on contaminated land could be eligible for triple credits “toward meeting a national renewable electricity standard.” Existing federal and state incentives have been assembled into a nifty database by the EPA.

Based on feedback solicited from stakeholders last fall and winter, the EPA crafted the management plan to address barriers to using contaminated sites as proposed. On the docket? Providing more guidance on the topic, promoting incentives, and clarifying liability protections. All available EPA resources can be accessed here, and comments on the plan will be accepted until November 30, 2010.

One response to this post.

  1. […] presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”  (See our October 22 post on the topic.) The EPA’s program is designed to “help revitalize former industrial and […]

    Reply

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