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Pennsylvania Marks 20th Anniversary Of Signing Of Land Recycling Laws

The Department of Environmental Protection Tuesday released a new video commemorating the 20th anniversary of the signing of Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling laws that encourage the voluntary cleanup and reuse of contaminated commercial and industrial sites.

The video features interviews with Gov. Tom Wolf and former Gov. Tom Ridge who signed Acts 2, 3 and 4 into law on May 19, 1995, at the U.S. Steel Tube Works in McKeesport, Allegheny County. It’s available on DEP’s YouTube Channel.

“Land is a vital resource. It has both economic and environmental value,” Gov. Wolf said. “For every acre of brownfields we restore, we save around four acres of green space. It’s really important.”

“You talk about recycling plastic. You talk about recycling paper. How about recycling land?,” Gov. Ridge said. “We thought it was a green initiative because, for every company you support building on the old infrastructure, you're not building on green fields.”

The goal of Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program is to encourage public sector cleanup of contaminated, vacant or otherwise underutilized properties and return them to productive use.

In the 20 years since the laws were enacted, more than 5,000 Pennsylvania brownfields sites have been cleaned up and approximately 97,000 jobs have been created or retained.

Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program is built on four cornerstones aimed at removing obstacles to redevelopment. They include:

-- Uniform Cleanup Standards -- enables the remediator to clearly understand the extent and cost of site cleanup. The selection of standard(s) assures that a site is protective of its present and future use. A property used for industrial development need not be as clean as a residential site.

-- Liability Relief -- addresses the concerns that previously inhibited site redevelopment and sale of properties, the liability protection extends to future owners.

-- Standardized Reviews And Time Limits -- provides date certainty. Consistent reporting requirements and standardized review procedures provide a definite time frame for report review.

-- Financial Assistance -- provides grants and low-interest loans for assessment or remediation. These programs are available to people who did not cause or contribute to contamination at the site.

In 1997, Pennsylvania’s Land Recycling Program was named the winner of the Ford Foundation’s Innovations in American Government Award administered by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government.

The brownfields anniversary video debuted last week at the Pennsylvania Brownfields Conference in Erie, which was attended by hundreds of redevelopment and remediation experts from across the northeast.

DEP Acting Secretary John Quigley delivered the keynote address followed by a presentation about the development of Acts 2, 3 and 4 by former DEP Secretary James Seif.

“This program is transformative,” Quigley said. “It takes dilapidated blighted properties, and returns them to the tax rolls, creates jobs, creates housing opportunities and restores community pride.”

For more information, visit DEP’s Brownfields Redevelopment webpage.

Related Article:

Senate, DEP Celebrate 20th Anniversary Of The Land Recycling Program With Video


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