What's a brownfield?

Governmental Brownfields Programs and Incentives


Laws pertaining to brownfield development vary by state. But all state governments and the EPA work together to see that brownefields are cleaned up to standard. Many states have voluntary cleanup programs that encourage site owners to collaborate with the state to execute the cleanup.


­­Many local and state laws offer tax incentives for brownfield development, including Tax Increment Financing (TIF). When a brownfield is redeveloped, the value of surrounding real estate often increases, and new support businesses follow. The result is increased tax revenues for the area, the "tax increment." TIF is meant to fund improvements in distressed or underdeveloped areas where development would not otherwise occur.

But brownfield legislation doesn't stop at the state level. Through the Federal Brownfields Tax Incentive, taxpayers can fully deduct the cost of environmental cleanup at eligible properties in the year the costs were incurred.

Also, congress passed brownfields law, which is known as the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act. The law addresses owners' and investors' concerns about incurring liability if contamination is found. It outlines how to protect oneself from possible liability. Because of the Act, innocent people are better protected from liability and many sites are being cleaned up and put to good use.

The EPA and HUD both have governmental programs for bolstering brownfield revitalization.

The EPA Brownfields Program started in 1995. It provides funding to encourage the assessment and cleanup of brownfields, supports states and tribes with programs to address contaminated sites and provides technical support for cleaning up sites. It also provides cleanup jobs and brownfields research.

A redevelopment upswing in Dallas, Texas, exemplifies what the EPA Brownfield Program can do. This expansion was triggered by an EPA brownfields grant , and since then, public and private funding exceeding $550 million has been used to cleanup and repurpose desolate areas around the city. Now, residents get a new recreation center, housing, shopping and an environmental training and technology center, which will usher in more than 1,000 new jobs.

­Another major governmental program that bolsters brownfield development is the Brownfields Economic Development Initiative (BEDI), a grant program administered by HUD to stimulate and promote economic and community development.

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More Great Links


  • Duncan, Robert. Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Development with HUD. Personal interview. Feb. 11, 2009.
  • Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields Program.
  • Environmental Protection Agency Cleanups in My Community database.
  • Environmental Protection Agency's Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Information System.
  • Environmental Protection Agency Federal Brownfields Tax Incentive.
  • Gans, Debora and Weisz, Claire. "Extreme Sites: The 'Greening' of Brownfield." Wiley-Academy. 2004.
  • Petteway, Tisha. EPA Press Officer. Personal correspondence. Feb. 17, 2009 and Feb. 19, 2009.
  • Sullivan, Brian. HUD. Personal correspondence. Feb. 11, 2009.