State Voluntary Cleanup Programs

State voluntary cleanup programs (VCPs) play a major role in cleaning up brownfields. Beginning in the mid-1990s, EPA increased its partnerships with states through VCPs to address the cleanup of brownfields and to strengthen and build program capacity. As part of that effort, EPA has entered into memoranda of agreement with individual states to encourage the voluntary cleanup of brownfields under VCP oversight.

Memorandum of Agreement

A memorandum of agreement (MOA) is a non-binding agreement that promotes coordination and clarifies the general roles and responsibilities between EPA and the state at a brownfields site. MOAs, indirectly, also provide the public with confidence that EPA and the state agency are working in a coordinated manner. [Current listing of state and tribal response program agreements.]

Even though concerns about potential Superfund liability for voluntary cleanups of brownfields under VCP oversight were largely mitigated by the 2002 Brownfields Amendments, EPA continues to support EPA Regions entering into MOAs with interested states and believes MOAs are a valuable mechanism to facilitate protective cleanups under VCP oversight. An MOA, or the absence of an MOA, does not alter EPA's or a state's legal authority.

MOAs are entered into after an evaluation of the VCP's capabilities and are tailored to those capabilities.

Some MOAs have become a mechanism for Regions and states to clarify work sharing arrangements at Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) facilities, particularly where the state is not authorized for RCRA corrective action, while others have addressed "one cleanup" approaches.

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The Enforcement Bar

Superfund generally prohibits federal enforcement against parties who are cleaning up certain lower risk contaminated properties called "eligible response sites" in compliance with a state response program that specifically governs cleanups. This is commonly referred to as the "enforcement bar." Superfund does include exceptions to this enforcement bar under specific circumstances. For more information see EPA's March 2003 guidance Regional Determinations Regarding Which Sites Are Not 'Eligible Response Sites.

Learn More About Brownfields and Land Revitalization Cleanup Enforcement.

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