III. Environmental Response

Program:   Environmental cleanup & redevelopment program


All from Special Revenue Funds:





Program Description:

This appropriation funds the Environmental cleanup & Redevelopment program, a program which undertakes cleanup activities at contaminated sites for which a liable party will not or cannot assume responsibility. Cleanups of contaminated sites to promote redevelopment also are undertaken, as well as the administration of state matching funds for federal Superfund sites.

State law regulates how the funds are spent.  Redevelopment projects cannot be funded until all Superfund-match requirements are satisfied and projects with acute contamination are funded.  Any remaining funds must be evenly split between urban and non-urban redevelopment projects.

Recommended Action:

Eliminating acute threats to public health is a legitimate function of state government. Whether the DEQ accurately defines acute contamination or efficiently manages site cleanups, are issues beyond the scope of this paper. However, there is ample evidence that civil servants – no matter how resourceful – are simply less equipped than entrepreneurs to appropriately assess redevelopment prospects.

State government is, by its very nature, more receptive to political forces than to market trends. Indeed, numerous are the instances in which the state has invested tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in redevelopment schemes that failed to return the expected results. Nor is site contamination the only factor inhibiting redevelopment of “brownfield” sites. Consequently, appropriations under this line item should be restricted to the cleanup of sites posing an acute threat to public health.  In the short-term, this could reduce program expenditures by $1 million annually, and even more in future years as the number of acutely contaminated sites diminishes. Savings: $1,000,000.