Brownfields Laws and Regulations

On January 11, 2002, President Bush signed the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act (Pub .L.No. 107-118, 115 stat. 2356, "the Brownfields Law"). The Brownfields Law amended the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) by providing funds to assess and clean up brownfields; clarified CERCLA liability protections; and provided funds to enhance state and tribal response programs. Other related laws and regulations impact Brownfields cleanup and reuse through financial incentives and regulatory requirements.

Potential Superfund Liability Issues Associated with Brownfield Sites
Contains information about landowner liability protections and enforcement tools that address liability concerns associated with brownfields sites. 

All Appropriate Inquiries
Includes statutory language, fact sheets, negotiated rulemaking, and Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) meeting information.

Brownfields Tax Incentive
Has information about the Brownfields Tax incentive included in the Taxpayer Relief Act to spur the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields in distressed urban and rural areas.

Major Environmental Laws
More than a dozen major statutes or laws form the legal basis for EPA programs. 

  • Other Brownfields-related Laws

    Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund)

    The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and provided broad federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment.

    Davis-Bacon (DB) and Davis-Bacon Related Acts (DBRA)

    Davis-Bacon and Davis-Bacon Related Acts - The Davis-Bacon enacted in 1931 requires the payment of prevailing wage rates for contractors and subcontractors performing work on federally-funded or assisted construction, alteration, and repair contracts in excess of $2,000.

    Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

    Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) gives EPA the authority to control hazardous waste from the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA also set forth a framework for the management of non-hazardous wastes. The 1986 amendments to RCRA enabled EPA to address environmental problems that could result from underground tanks storing petroleum and other hazardous substances. RCRA focuses only on active and future facilities and does not address abandoned or historical sites.

    Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)

    In 1977, Congress enacted the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to require banks, thrifts, and other lenders to make capital available in low- and moderate-income urban neighborhoods, thereby boosting the nation's efforts to stabilize these declining areas. Concern over potential environmental and financial liability for cleaning up these sites made lenders, developers, and property owners reluctant to finance redevelopment of these properties. Rather than reuse former urban industrial sites, businesses instead moved to suburban or rural "greenfields," which carry fewer perceived risks to development.

    In January 1995, EPA announced its original Brownfields Action Agenda in response to the widespread economic development obstacles posed by urban brownfields. The (1995-1996) Brownfields Action Agenda encouraged a cooperative approach by EPA, lenders, and prospective purchasers to ease fears of financial liability and regulatory burdens. EPA has coordinated with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to create incentives within the CRA regulations for economic revitalization and development.

    Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA)

    The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) amended CERCLA. SARA reflects EPA's experience in administering the Superfund Program.