Since its inception in 1995, the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Brownfields Program has grown into a proven, results-oriented program that has changed the way contaminated (and potentially contaminated) property is perceived, addressed, and managed. EPA's Brownfields Program is designed to empower states, communities, and other stakeholders in economic redevelopment to work together in a timely manner to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields. It is estimated there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.
Initially, EPA provided small amounts of seed money to local governments that launched hundreds of two-year brownfield "pilot" projects. Through passage of the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act, effective polices that EPA had developed over the years were passed into law. The Brownfields Law expanded EPA's assistance by providing new tools for the public and private sectors to promote sustainable brownfields cleanup and reuse.