Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act
The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act (Pub .L.No. 107-118, 115 stat. 2356, "the Brownfields Law") was signed into law by President George W. Bush on January 11, 2002. Brownfields are defined as, "A former industrial or commercial site where future use is affected by real or perceived environmental contamination." The Brownfields Law amended the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) by providing funds to assess and clean up brownfields, clarifying CERCLA liability protections, and providing funds to enhance state and tribal response programs. Other related laws and regulations impact brownfields cleanup and reuse through financial incentives and regulatory requirements.
An Executive Take
The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was a response to the 1980 act entitled The Superfund, which forced industries to pay for their own toxic spills and general pollution. President Bush cited in his address, on January 11, 2002, that "American cities have many such eyesores; anywhere from 500,000 to a million brownfields are across our Nation."  In turn, this bill was created to put an end to the excess regulations and litigations many entrepreneurs incur when revitalizing dilapidated fields.
This act allows cash poor parties financial assistance, settling for smaller payment amounts, and alternative payment methods. This act also allows parties with property adjacent to the brownfields—which may contain hazardous wastes that infect their real estate—relief from the stipulations they would previously been accountable for. Additionally, the property owners whose groundwater is contaminated by erosion, upon passing the Act, are now exempt from installing remediation systems and having any further inspections. Previously responsible parties are now exempt from the Superfund's legislation. Innocent landowning parties can now be defended so long as they intend to fully cooperate with natural resource restoration, comply with restrictions on property, and not impede on the integrity of the ruling institution.
Groups that are looking to dispose of less than 110 gallons or 200 pounds of hazardous waste are exempt from this act, so long as the disposal occurred before April 1, 2001. The National Priorities List, a branch of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), also states that groups operating with fewer than 100 full-time employees are also exempt from former Superfund agreements. Additionally, the president retains the ability to override any exemptions he deems necessary due to maltreatment of natural resources. The president may also override any failed requests that were submitted by previously responsible parties, or current landowners . In Section 221 of the act, anyone owning land adjacent to contaminated property that is releasing hazardous substances is also exempt from the stipulations previously required by The Superfund of 1980.
Landowners, upon passing The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownsfield Revitalization Act, are responsible to proceed with an "all appropriate inquiry" in which they ask previous owners of the nature of the lands use. Additionally, to carry out an all appropriate inquiry, the current landowner must take the customary steps toward protecting human activity from the contaminated area on the property and salvaging any natural resources contaminated by the contamination. Finally, the act requires an EPA administrator to make known any contamination upon the property publicly available within two years from discovery.
- "Definition". Dictionary.com. Retrieved 2011-04-26.
- "ALERT - Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act". HG.org Worldwide Legal Directories. Retrieved 2011-02-13.
- "Superfund Gets the Shaft". TIME. Retrieved 2011-02-18.
- "Bush Signs Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act". Green Truck. Retrieved 2011-02-21.
- Full text of U.S. Brownfields Law
- U.S. EPA's Brownfields web site
- Brownfields Development Blog
- HG Legal Directories
- Green Truck Blog
- Time Magazine